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A BOY OF THE LOST CRUSADE 







HE SMILED DOWN ON THE BOY A MOMENT {page 52) 




A BOY OF THE 
LOST CRUSADE 


BY 

AGNES DANFORTH HEWES 


WITH ILLUSTRATIONS BY 

GUSTAF TENGGREN 



BOSTON AND NEW YORK 

HOUGHTON MIFFLIN COMPANY 


tE^f)e l^ibernthe Cambtiliec 
1923 

I 













COPYRIGHT, 1923, BY HOUGHTON MIFFLIN COMPANY 

ALL RIGHTS RESERVED 



CAMBRIDGE . MASSACHUSETTS 
PRINTED IN THE U.S.A. 

OCT 22 '23 

©ClA 7 e 047 1 






LAURENCE ILSLEY HEWES 
HARRIET KESTER 
PAUL KESTER 

















ILLUSTRATIONS 

He Smiled down on the Boy a Moment Frontispiece 

He had never imagined Anything as Terrible as 
THIS Sword Play 94 

Swung the Boy up beside him 166 


The Fighting Redoubled its Fury 


232 


/ 


A BOY OF THE LOST CRUSADE 

• • 

CHAPTER ONE 

Such a flowery little garden set between a fringe of 
woods and the silver crescent of river! Such neat, 
firm paths bordered with violets and mignonette; 
such a gayety of gillyflowers and snapdragon and 
proud delicate lilies, with a glory of a rosebush at 
the doorstep! For there was a doorstep, and a low, 
rambling house into which it led; a house that 
was neither grand nor poor, and was noticeable only 
for its air of belonging to the garden which held it. 

As a matter of fact, Roland always thought of 
the garden as the most important part of the entire 
establishment, and so, apparently, did Robert 
Arnot, his father, and Rose, his mother, for they 
kept it, with the help of old Pierre, the gardener, 
with a charm of order that one seldom saw except 
on great estates. Beyond a doubt there was not a 
prettier or a better cared-for spot in the province 
of Lyonnaise. 

When one must go indoors to bed or to take 
shelter from the weather, the rambling old house 
with its widespread roof did very well; but it was 
in the garden that one really lived, Roland would 
have told you, and, as living and playing had 




A BOY OF THE LOST CRUSADE 


meant the same thing to him in his ten years of 
life, he was right. 

He was hardly out of babyhood when he would 
grasp his mother’s plaits of bright hair and drive 
her around the flower-bordered paths, while she 
trotted before him like a well-behaved pony or 
broke into a mad gallop that made his short legs 
fly to keep up with her. Sometimes his father would 
lend a hand to rescue the runaway, his tall, straight 
father with the splendid shoulders and a shock of 
black hair that was always in his eyes. Out of an 
ambuscade of shrubs he would dash, put both 
driver and horse to wild rout through every turn 
of the garden, finally sweep them, breathless with 
laughter, into his arms and declare them both 
transgressors of law and order at the mercy of his 
leniency! 

After the romp was over, he would draw Rose 
down beside him, lift Roland on his lap, and tell 
stories. And such stories as Robert Arnot could 
tell! Of fairies and goblins, of wars in far countries, 
of rousing adventures in their own loved France. 
Of all these tales there were two which ranked 
highest in Roland’s favor. One was of that Roland 
of a far-away day whose gallant death made him 
the hero of song and story, and whose brave name 
he himself bore. 

“See that you are worthy of it, little son,” Rob¬ 
ert Arnot would invariably end, “and never give 
up the fight even with all the odds against you.” 


A BOY OF THE LOST CRUSADE 


3 


And so it had come to be a part of the boy’s very 
fiber, that one must go on in the face of defeat as 
though sure victory awaited. 

The other tale directly concerned Rose Arnot. 

Years ago, a pilgrim returning from far Palestine 
had stopped in the very house where Roland now 
lived. His mother’s mother had lived there then. 
The man had given a spirited account of his ex¬ 
periences, and had ended by presenting to the 
mistress of the house the root of a plant which he 
had brought all the way from Palestine. 

‘‘Put it in rich soil and care for it,” he had said, 
“and it will repay you with a blossom which every 
flower under heaven must hail as queen, so lovely 
beyond compare is it and of such a heavenly per¬ 
fume!” 

So the young woman had planted it beside the 
doorstep, and, when it bore its first miracle of 
fragrant pink satin petals, she declared that the 
pilgrim had not half praised it. There was nothing 
on earth to match it! Yes, one: her own tiny 
daughter! And she, as yet nameless, should be 
called after this exquisite foreign flower. Rose. 

The plant was a huge thriving shrub now that 
fllled the garden with the delight of its bloom 
and sweetness. As for the little Rose, she herself 
had grown and blossomed no less. “And it’s a 
question for a magician to decide,” Robert Arnot 
would tenderly end, “which is the fairer, the 
flower or the namesake”; and he would pull a rose 


4 A BOY OF THE LOST CRUSADE 

from the bush and hold it proudly to his wife’s 
cheek. 

Indeed, Roland hardly ever remembered his 
father without a rose somewhere about him, stuck 
jauntily at his belt, perhaps, but more often held 
caressingly in his hand. 

Then, one day, into the midst of their sunshine 
and laughter had come, like a shadow, a strange 
story^ from across the sea. It seemed that the 
country of Palestine, where Christ had lived, was 
in grave danger. Even though this country was 
unthinkably far away, people had been making 
pilgrimages to it in the hope of gaining forgiveness 
of their sins in the name of the Holy One who had 
once lived there. 

But now these journeys could no longer be made 
in peace or in safety, because a savage people 
called Saracens wanted Palestine for themselves 
and had determined to attack the pilgrims and 
to imprison and even to kill them. Now what sort 
of creatures these Saracens might be Roland could 
hardly imagine, but he had a mental picture of 
savages, half demon, half wild beast. Whatever 
they were, all Christians felt that they must be 
conquered so that the country of Christ, and es¬ 
pecially the place of His burial, might belong to 
those who bore His name. 

So, for a hundred years and more, war had been 
waged in Palestine for its possession. Expedi¬ 
tions had set out under the kings of France and of 


A BOY OF THE LOST CRUSADE 


5 


other countries to take the Holy Land from the 
wicked infidels. But they had not yet succeeded; 
more soldiers were needed, and — this was the dark¬ 
est of the dark shadow that had fallen over the 
sunshine and laughter — word had come now that 
Robert Arnot must go to join this war in the name 
of Christ and the Cross on which He had died. 

A little later, he held Roland and Rose in his 
arms for a long time. “You’ll take care of each 
other while I’m gone,” he said — “until I come 
back,” he added quickly. He had picked a rose, 
bent over it silently, kissed the boy and his mother, 
and so had gone quickly away down the road to 
join the Crusaders. 

Everything suddenly seemed stilled, desolate, 
cold. Even the mother of the radiant eyes and 
hair was changed. Instead of rollicking games of 
hide and seek or mad races up and down the gar¬ 
den, she and Roland would sit for hours, arm 
in arm, thinking, talking, of the Crusades, of the 
Saracens, above all of his father. How had he 
fared during the long journey, how crossed the 
sea, in how many battles had he fought, what was 
he doing now.^ 

So two years went by, when something happened, 
stranger than anything that had yet befallen 
Roland. It was a hot July day, and he and his 
mother were sitting in the shade of the rosebush, 
when they heard the sharp click of the gate and 
saw, striding up the path toward them, a most sin- 



G 


A BOY OF THE LOST CRUSADE 


gular person. It was a monk whose shabby, dust- 
covered robe hardly hid the gaunt form under it; 
but in the wan face was a look that made the boy 
suddenly fling his arms around his mother, partly 
to protect her, partly to shield himself. For in the 
fiery eyes there was a relentless force that left room 
for no argument! Had they lured him off the edge 
of a precipice, still Roland felt that he would obey. 

An instant the man stared at the two, then out 
shot a hairy arm that pointed a knotted finger at 
Roland. 

“In the name of the Cross,” he said in a deep 
monotone as if he were chanting — “In the name 
of the Cross and of Him who bled upon it, up and 
on, thou and the children of France! Up and on, 
to rescue the land of Mary’s Holy Son.” 

“Children, do you say.^” exclaimed Rose, star¬ 
tled out of her dazed silence. “What have chil¬ 
dren to do with that far country.^” 

“Silence!” ordered the man sternly, and Roland 
felt his neck and temples throb with rage that any 
one should dare speak so to his mother “Question 
thou not the will of God! Men have fought these 
hundred years to win the Land of the Cross, and 
still it remains the Saracens’! Victory shall come 
only by those who are of clean hands and a pure 
heart, those who are still sinless and fresh from 
the hands of the Creator. And such are children 
and none other.” 

Sinless! Well, he certainly was not that, Roland 


A BOY OF THE LOST CRUSADE 


7 


thought with immense relief. Why, it was only 
yesterday that he had turned the lock of the garden 
house on Pierre just for the fun of hearing the old 
man fuss and fumble at the door. And last Sunday, 
concealed in the thick branches of the chestnut 
at the foot of the garden, had he not sprinkled 
twigs and old nests on the heads of the people 
going home from service, and hugged himself with 
delight at the spectacle of old Auguste’s angry 
face and shiny bald head well showered with the 
litter? Ah, no, not sinless, he! Besides, he had no 
wish to go to the rescue of Palestine. 

But the peremptory voice went on: 

‘‘As thou hopest for salvation, thou and every 
mother of France must send thy children to wrest 
from the infidel the Land of the Cross.” 

“But the boy’s father is gone to the Crusades, 
and I have this, only this, left,” Rose burst out, 
sobbing, terrified, and she strained Roland to her 
so that he gasped for breath. Yet for all her pro¬ 
tecting arms he felt his ground lost and the monk’s 
won. 

“As thou hopest for salvation” — that threat 
again! — “thou must give thine all to the Cross! 
Not salvation of thy soul alone, woman, but of thy 
husband and thy child, and of thy country!” 
The gaunt form bent forward, the terrifying eyes 
fixed on Roland. 

“As for thee, my son, listen: Seek you out 
Stephen of Cloyes. He is called of Heaven to lead 


8 


A BOY OF THE LOST CRUSADE 


the children of France to the glorious conquest of 
Jerusalem. Seek him where he awaits you, and 
tarry not! In the name of the Cross!’’ 

With a rapid gesture he made the holy sign on 
his face and breast and was gone as suddenly as he 
had come. 

A day of misery had followed, and a night when 
Roland and his mother had clung sleepless to each 
other. 

“‘As thou hopest for salvation,’” he heard her 
moan over and over again. “Oh, Roland, my little, 
little son! To send thy tender body across the 
world, to hunger and thirst on the way, thy feet 
to be torn by cruel stones! Salvation of my soul — 
what is that if I must lose you.^” Then, in a 
frightened whisper, the last words of the monk: 
“‘Not salvation of thy soul alone, but of thy hus¬ 
band and thy child!”’ 

The next day old Pierre sought Rose out to tell 
her of certain disquieting rumors that he had 
heard. A strange monk, it seemed, had gone to 
every house in the village with the most extraor¬ 
dinary command, nothing less than that the chil¬ 
dren of France must go to the rescue of Palestine. 
The little place was aflame with excitement. 

Roland and his mother had agreed to tell no one, 
not even Pierre, of the monk’s visit to them, and 
they made no sign now that they had ever heard 
of the matter. 

Some of the parents, Pierre went on, vowed that 


9 


A BOY OF THE LOST CRUSADE 

their children should not stir a step from home on 
this wild expedition. There was no truth in it, they 
declared; but others held that there was something 
in what the monk had said of the failure of the 
Crusaders to win the Holy Land. It might be that 
innocent children would succeed where grown men 
had failed. 

“And what do the children themselves say.^” 
inquired Rose. 

“That they were going all the same!” replied 
Pierre with a deprecatory shake of the head. 

“But how are they goingdemanded Rose with 
a sudden vehemence. “Did the monk tell them 
that ? ” 

Roland stared at the hot resentment in her voice. 

“Oh,” cried Pierre, “there’s a lot of talk about 
that, too. He says that a shepherd lad by the name 
of Stephen has been called from the fields by voices 
and visions from Heaven to lead the children of 
France to capture Jerusalem!” 

Rose nodded impatiently. 

“They say,” the old man continued, “that this 
thing is spreading all over the country, that the 
children are gathering at Vendome, where the 
shepherd lad awaits them, and that from there he 
will lead them, as a general would an army, straight 
to Marseilles and the sea, where” — Pierre paused 
impressively — “the waters will part so that the 
children will cross to Palestine on dry land!” 

Roland burst out with delight at the possibility 


10 


A BOY OF THE LOST CRUSADE 


of such an adventure, but Rose shook her head 
unbelievingly: “To fill innocent ears with such 
tales!” 

“A miracle will be wrought!” maintained Pierre 
stoutly. “That’s what they all say, anyway.” 

All at once an intent look came into Rose’s face. 
“Did you say, Pierre, that the children were go¬ 
ing to Marseilles.^” 

“Marseilles, yes.” 

Rose made no reply, but she seemed to be turn¬ 
ing something over in her mind, and, indeed, hardly 
spoke the rest of the day. 

That night Roland fell into a restless, aching 
doze in which he could hear over and over her 
agonized whispers, “ ‘Salvation of thy husband and 
of thy child!”’ By and by he was half conscious 
that they stopped, and he felt a blessed drowsiness 
relax his strained body. He seemed to float happily 
down a cool gray river that carried him away from 
trouble. 

When he woke, he lay quiet for some moments. 
Sunshine filled his room and lay across him in a 
gay, warm caress. The vine that climbed the win¬ 
dow threw a lacy shadow pattern on the wall. He 
stretched, yawned, and half raised himself, when 
suddenly he caught sight of some one at the end of 
the room that made him leap clean out of bed in 
sheer^ amazement. For who was it but his young 
uncle, his mother’s twin brother, and the merriest, 
most mischievous fellow in the world! Then he 


A BOY OF THE LOST CRUSADE 


11 


remembered that Uncle Jacques lived far away; 
in the north of France, in fact. 

‘‘Why, Uncle Jacques, how are you here?'' he 
gasped. 

For answer this gay and surprising young person 
burst into laughter, and with a leap and bound was 
upon him, tousling his mop of hair, pinching his 
cheeks and nose — and then Roland knew that it 
was not Uncle Jacques, but his own mother of the 
radiant laughter and the shining hair and eyes. 

“What made you do it, mother.^” he said, 
straining back from her arms to look at her. 
“Where did you get the clothes?” 

“ Don’t you remember, darling. Uncle Jacques 
left them when he was here the last time? And 
why did I do it — ah! why did I, Roland? Listen, 
little son,” and she drew him close to her. “It came 
to me in the night like a blessed vision that, if I 
could wear boys’ clothes —■ just as I used to, some¬ 
times, when I was a girl, and only my mother could 
tell which of us was the real Jacques — I could go 
with you to the Crusades as your big brother. For 
I couldn’t let you go alone. No, not for all that 
terrible monk said. And, Roland, think!” — her 
voice fairly sang — “we are going to father!” 

His father! After these two long years, across 
those many miles of land and sea! The joy of it 
took his breath away. Then came an anxious 
thought: “And mustn’t any one know that you’re 
my mother?” 



12 


A BOY OF THE LOST CRUSADE 


“No, dearest, better not. You see only children 
are to go now, because the monk said that the 
Holy Land might be saved only by the sinless and 
innocent. I’m too grown-up!” 

For a moment they both were silent, for each 
was thinking what if their secret were discovered 
and Roland must still go alone? Oh, how careful 
they must be to make no slip! 

“I’ll begin to call you Jacques right away.” 

“Yes, and I’ll practice walking like him — so!” 
And Rose strode out into the middle of the room 
with a length of step that made the boy burst with 
laughter. 

“We must start soon, too,” he declared in a good 
deal of excitement, “for Pierre said the children 
were already gathering at Vendome, and that’s 
so far away.” 

“Oh, but we’re not going there, darling,” his 
mother explained hastily. “That would never do 
for us, alone as we are. No, I’ve thought it all out,” 
she went on slowly, “and our best plan is to join 
them when they march near us on their way to 
Marseilles.” 

They took old Pierre at once into the secret. 
He was speechless with dismay at first; but he 
would not breathe it to a soul, not for all France, 
and Rose knew she could depend on his word. 
Tears streamed down his brown cheeks as he as¬ 
sured her that the garden should be tended as 
faithfully in her absence as though she were there, 


A BOY OF THE LOST CRUSADE 


13 


her favorite yellow gillyflowers in particular, and 
the rosebush; yes, everything. He would air and 
sun the house, too. Indeed, the place would be all 
ready for them to step right into when they came 
back — when did she think that would be.^ the 
old man inquired anxiously. Ah! that Rose could 
not tell; a year, perhaps two; and she turned away 
with her eyes full of tears. 

But almost instantly her gay courage returned. 

“Come, heart of mine,” she said to Roland, “we 
must pay our respects to Their Majesties.” They 
always spoke of Roland’s swans as “Their Majes¬ 
ties,” for he had named them after the kings of 
Old France, Charlemagne, Pepin, Charles Martel. 
So the two went to the pond and threw bits of 
bread to the beautiful, eager birds, and then, arm 
in arm, they said a slow good-bye to their favorite 
paths, to the oak behind whose giant trunk they 
had played at hide and seek, and last of all to the 
merry brown brook where the cowslips grew. 

Meanwhile, Pierre reported that several village 
children in the neighborhood had run away to join 
the Crusade at Vendome. Then, one evening, 
“They’ve started on the way to Palestine!” he 
announced excitedly. “I heard it with my own 
ears from the Cure.” 

Rose questioned him carefully. There seemed 
to be no doubt that the march to Marseilles had 
begun, and village talk had it that it was now ap¬ 
proaching Lyons. 


14 


A BOY OF THE LOST CRUSADE 


“Lyons!” Rose cried out quickly, and a flame 
of color swept her face. “As near as that.^ We 
must be ready to join them!” 

Two days later, in the gray of an August morn¬ 
ing, Roland and his mother stepped out of the 
house to find Pierre waiting to give them his God¬ 
speed. A moment of good-bye to the sweet, dusky 
little garden, and they were out on the road that 
joined the highway to Lyons. 

Rose, in the leather jerkin, her fair hair cut to 
the nape of her neck, would have passed anywhere 
for a beautiful youth of sixteen. Slung around her 
shoulders was a small bundle of clothing, and 
fastened inside her belt was all the coin that she 
owned. Roland carried enough food for the next 
few days. “And we can get milk and fruit at the 
farmhouses on the way,” his mother said. When 
full daylight came, they were well out of their own 
neighborhood and, as it happened, not one familiar 
face did they meet along the road. 

“We’ll make straight for Lyons,” Rose said, 
“and in two or three days we shall begin to hear 
news of the children.” 

But it was before that, in fact late that afternoon, 
on the outskirts of a little town, that a woman 
hailed them from her doorway: “Are you going to 
join the Holy Children.^ You’re just in time!” 

“Where are they?” Rose called back quickly. 

“There!” with a gesture tow^ard the town. 

Just then a man came running down the road, a 


A BOY OF THE LOST CRUSADE 


15 


blacksmith as one could see by his leather apron 
and huge bare arms. 

“They’re here, Suzanne!” he shouted excitedly 
to the woman in the doorway. “Four horses wait¬ 
ing to be shod, too! — I can see horses any day, 
but children — thirty thousand of them — going 
to cross the sea on dry land—” His voice died 
away as he ran on. 

“Did you hear what he said, mother, thirty 
thousand?’^ whispered Roland. 

“We were just in time, little son, werenT we? 
By to-morrow we should have missed them, and 
it wouldn’t have been so easy to overtake them.” 

By this time the road was full of eager, hurrying 
groups intent on a first sight of the children. Some 
of the women carried jugs of milk and baskets of 
hot food to the little Crusaders, and they all talked 
as they ran along. 

Presently an excited voice called out something 
that was taken up and passed from mouth to 
mouth. Instantly the crowd surged forward. 

“What do they say?” demanded Rose of a man 
next her. 

“That they are right ahead of us, camped in the 
fields outside the town.” 

At first Rose and Roland tried desperately to 
keep up with the rest, then Roland felt his mother’s 
arm flung around him. “Take tight hold of me,” 
she whispered to him, “like this, and we’ll soon 
be out where we can see for ourselves.” So, work- 


16 


A BOY OF THE LOST CRUSADE 


ing their way in and out of the elbowing, jostling 
stream, they reaehed the side of the road. 

“That’s better,” panted Rose. “Now, just to 
those trees, and we can stop for a breath.” 

“See,” cried Roland, “where the fires are!” 

Several hundred yards beyond them, something 
that looked like an immense shadow seemed to 
have settled onto the fields and to stretch away 
into the night. Here and there freshly lighted fires 
flared up from the gray expanse, and by their blaze 
one saw human figures, black against the bright 
relief. There was a smell of food in the air, and the 
subdued, persistent murmur of thousands of voices, 
like the hum of some mammoth hive. 

All at once there floated out over the vast camp 
the old Church hymn, “Veni, Creator Spiritus.” 
Roland, a little awed, crept close to Rose, and so, 
arms around each other, they sat until the last 
stately note had died away. 

“We’ll sleep here by ourselves to-night,” she 
said-at last, “ and to-morrow morning will be time 
enough for us to join them.” Then, as the boy 
stretched himself drowsily beside her, “It’s good 
to be quiet and together, isn’t it, little lad.^^” 


CHAPTER TWO 


The next morning Roland, awake at the first bird 
call, sat up to see how the camp looked by day¬ 
light. It was no longer the gray blur of the night 
before, but a little world that swarmed with life 
and motion. Children everywhere, from those 
nearest him, in plain sight, to those farther away 
who looked like black dots and finally melted into 
a dark, shifting background; children by the hun¬ 
dred, by the thousand, such an array of them as he 
had never dreamed of, and could hardly grasp even 
now, under his eyes though they were. 

Soon he noticed that the whole mass was shot 
with bits of scarlet, like a pattern woven with red 
figures. They were on the children’s clothing, that 
much he made sure of; but what did they mean, 
these countless flecks of color 

‘‘So taken up with staring that you haven’t 
time to say good-morning!” bantered Rose in his 
ear, and she pulled his head down and tousled the 
fair hair till it stood on end. 

“You were asleep and I didn’t want to wake 
you!” he protested. “But, mother, see! What are 
those red dots.^” 

Rose scanned the great camp with puzzled eyes. 
All at once a light broke over her face. 

“I know!” she cried, “I know now! They’re 


18 


A BOY OF THE LOST CRUSADE 


crosses, red crosses, to show that this is a Crusade. 
You’ll be wearing one yourself presently, little lad! ” 
She sprang up as she went on, “And we mustn’t 
lose a moment, for if I’m not mistaken they’re 
making ready to march.” 

She shouldered her bundle, and they struck out 
for the camp, munching their bread and cheese as 
they walked. 

Presently they distinguished several black-robed 
figures moving about among the children. 

“Monks!” announced Roland with a dismayed 
recollection of their fierce visitor. 

“I suppose,” said Rose thoughtfully, “that they 
take the place of the children’s fathers and mothers 
— poor little things, they’re so young and so 
alone!” 

“Mother,” Roland whispered excitedly, “that 
one sees us — he’s coming to speak to us!” 

The boy was right. One of the monks was hur¬ 
rying toward them with as friendly a smile as 
one could wish. Rose squared her shoulders and 
lengthened her stride. 

“Remember,” she warned, “I’m Jacques! 

“Welcome, my children!” called the man heart¬ 
ily. “You are come to join us 

“Yes,” Rose answered, “we are here to become 
Crusaders.” 

“Crusaders to Palestine!” Roland made bold to 
add. Somehow it gave a thrill to the adventure to 
name their far goal! 



A BOY OF THE LOST CRUSADE 


19 


‘‘May Heaven grant you a glorious victory,” the 
man said fervently, and went on at once to tell 
them they were just in time for the day’s march. 
Then, touching the red cross on his right sleeve, 
he explained that it was the sacred pledge of the 
children and that when the Crusade had assembled 
at Vendome each recruit had been provided with 
one. “But come with me, my sons,” he said 
kindly, “and you shall each receive one even now 
at the hands of your leader, Stephen, himself.” 

To see this Stephen, who was the talk of all 
France, was exactly what Roland wished above 
everything. How would he look, the boy who had 
seen visions and heard voices calling to him from 
Heaven, and who was able to lead an army dry- 
shod over the floor of the sea.^ So, willingly enough, 
he pressed along between his mother and the monk 
through the ranks of children forming for the 
march. 

All at once a ripple of excitement ran through the 
throng: “He’s coming now! He’s coming!” 

The monk nodded: “Stephen comes to exhort 
his army.” 

As he spoke, the children gave way from side to 
side, and there rode into view, with a jingle of 
metal and a gleam of scarlet, a brilliant little 
cavalcade of youths who, with their spears and 
lances, might have passed for courtiers in some 
royal train. In their midst was a chariot fitted 
out with soft carpets and canopies, and on this 


20 


A BOY OF THE LOST CRUSADE 


little wheeled throne sat the boy to whom every 
one’s eyes were turned, the leader of the French 
children, Stephen, the shepherd lad of Cloyes. 

For a moment Roland could hardly believe his 
eyes. He had expected to see a peasant lad, on foot, 
like his army. But here he was, royally at ease, 
and as far removed from his thousands of followers, 
with their shabby clothes and their bare dusty 
feet, as if he were the Dauphin! 

It was on the tip of his tongue to ask Rose the 
meaning of such distinction when he saw the caval¬ 
cade halt, the mounted escort draw up on both 
sides of the chariot. The next moment Stephen 
rose. There was an instant silence among the chil¬ 
dren, and he began to speak. 

Roland eyed him critically, saw that he was 
hardly older than himself, sturdy, and broad- 
shouldered and stolid-faced. When he raised his 
hands to ask Heaven’s blessing, one saw that they 
were brown and coarsely made. But he was in 
earnest, no one could deny that, and, though a 
good deal of his language was obviously copied 
from his betters, a boyish phrase would slip in now 
and then, and an uncouth, energetic gesture, that 
gave his words an air of vigor. 

God had led them thus far on their way to the 
Holy Land, said Stephen, and would continue so 
to guide them over sea as over land up to the very 
walls of Jerusalem, if they would only trust and 
persevere. Let them not fail the Land of the Cross 


A BOY OF THE LOST CRUSADE 


21 


in her hour of need! Let them be loyal children of 
France and faithful soldiers of Christ! 

“Dieu le volt!” he cried, both hands thrust high 
above his head. A murmur of assent ran through 
his huge audience. “Dieu le volt!” he repeated, 
“the cry of the first Crusaders, and now ours! 
Set yourselves to carry out the Divine will, and 
victory is assured you in this world, and glory in 
the life to come!” 

A wave of wild enthusiasm swept over the little 
Crusaders. For several minutes one could hear 
nothing but cries of loyalty to the cause of the 
Cross and their leader, but Roland, glancing at 
his mother, saw that her eyes were full of tears. 

In the midst of the tumult, Stephen raised his 
hand to command silence, and gave the word for 
the day’s march to begin. 

“Come, then,” said the monk, to Roland and 
Rose, “we must make haste!” And the next 
moment he had shouldered them through the 
mounted escort and they stood, the three of them, 
before the chariot. 

“Behold, two more Crusaders,” he announced, 
smiling; and, as Stephen bent forward graciously, 
“but they yet lack the badge.” 

The boy instantly produced two crosses of red 
woolen cloth and fastened one in turn on Rose and 
Roland. 

“Be ye faithful soldiers of Christ and his sacred 
emblem!” he said hurriedly, and nodded his dis¬ 
missal. 


22 


A BOY OF THE LOST CRUSADE 


Well, they were Crusaders at last, free to march 
now without question or comment! And, best of 
all, Rose’s disguise had stood the test. The two 
stood back, partly to see the procession pass, 
partly to take their place at its rear, where they 
would be less crowded, and freer to talk together. 

The long line put itself in motion. Stephen and 
his gayly mounted escort led the way, and after 
them followed the children, the thousands that had 
rallied from every corner of France. They were 
so young, after all, hardly one of them more than 
a dozen years at best, and with such a passion of 
purpose in their worn little faces, as they trudged 
along barefoot in the thick dust, as made Rose 
catch her breath in a quick sob. Some of them 
waved oriflammes, copies of the sacred Oriflamme 
of Saint Denys, and still others carried great 
wax candles and crosses. Every once in a while 
the black-robed figure of a monk loomed head 
and shoulders above the childish rank and file. 
Presently a cry sounded that was taken up all 
along the line. Louder and stronger it rose and 
swelled, until the air vibrated with the famous old 
battle-cry of the Crusaders,- “Dieu le volt! Dieu 
le volt!” The great column was dwindling now, 
and its rear was in sight. Rose and Roland stepped 
forward, and fell at once into the marching pace. 

It was a hot morning, breathlessly sultry. And 
the dust from those thousands of feet! At noon 
they stopped to rest and to eat, and again just be- 


A BOY OF THE LOST CRUSADE 


23 


fore sunset; and each time Stephen spoke to them 
a good deal as he had in the morning. Sometimes 
a group of the army would start an old Church 
hymn and would be joined by others, or answered, 
perhaps, with a sacred marching song composed 
by one of the children. When they were not sing¬ 
ing, they talked on the one subject that absorbed 
them all, the miracle that was to turn the sea 
back; and bring them, in the end, to Jerusalem! 

“Do you believe that.^^’’ Roland whispered to 
Rose — “that the waves will part and let us pass 
over on dry land.f^” 

“Not exactly,” Bose answered doubtfully, “but 
some way will be found for us to get to Palestine, 
little son, I’m sure of that!” 

This troublesome matter disposed of, they al¬ 
ways went on to the topic that they never tired of, 
their own Crusader, and how their first meeting 
would come about and when and where. 

Indeed, if it had not been for those precious bits 
of whispered confidences with his mother, the 
boy could hardly have kept up heart on the long 
march, for it seemed as if there had never been 
such a hot midsummer as this, and, to make mat¬ 
ters worse, food was hard to find. When the Cru¬ 
sade passed through a village, there was a scram¬ 
ble for bread or fruit and milk, and, as long as the 
supplies lasted and one was quick of foot and of 
hand and didn’t care how the younger and weaker 
children fared, one did very well. Roland under- 


24 


A BOY OF THE LOST CRUSADE 


stood now how it was that so many of the faces 
around him showed hollow cheeks and hungry 
eyes. Yet even hunger would have been bearable 
if there had been plenty of water or if the sun had 
been more merciful. 

‘‘We can bear it a few days more, darling,” his 
mother would encourage him. “It can’t be long 
till we reach the sea.” 

As the days grew hotter and hotter, signs of a 
sullen restlessness began to spread through the 
army. They sang their hymns and songs less and 
less often. All that they could think of was water 
to quench their parched little throats, and shelter 
from the burning heat. 

“When shall we reach Marseilles? How far are 
we now from the sea?” they asked over and over. 

A great many declared they would turn back and 
go home; but only a few kept their threats; and, 
by dint of warnings and encouragement and fervent 
eloquence, Stephen and the faithful monks man¬ 
aged to keep the little Crusaders together and march¬ 
ing south. 

One afternoon a rumor that the journey was 
over ran like wildfire through the army. 

“Marseilles to-morrow!” was the cry on all sides. 

In a minute the weary, lagging procession had 
become a mob alive to the finger-tips and crazed 
with joy. Order and discipline were thrown to the 
winds and Stephen’s leadership forgotten. In the 
mad rush forward, it was every one for himself, 


A BOY OF THE LOST CRUSADE 25 

to keep up or fall behind according to his legs and 
breath. 

Of all those eager, happy children Roland was the 
very happiest, for to him Marseilles meant not only 
Palestine, but his father. The only drawback was 
that for a whole day now his mother had been not 
in the least like her radiant self. Such a spirited 
lad she had looked in her boy’s disguise, and how 
she had kept up her courage and his through heat 
and hunger and thirst! But now, with flushed face 
and drooping shoulders — for the life of him Roland 
couldn’t help thinking of the roses in the garden 
at home when they wilted under too fierce a sun. 

“I’ll feel better presently, little son,” she assured 
him; but late afternoon had come, and he, watch¬ 
ing her with a terrible fear at his heart, knew that 
she was worse. 

“I can’t go any farther,” she said at last, ‘‘my 
head is so dizzy and hot. We’ll sleep here by the 
roadside, and to-morrow we can find our way to 
Marseilles.” 

The children were far beyond them now, and fast 
disappearing in the distance. As Roland glanced 
after the last hurrying group with a pang of lonely 
helplessness, he noticed in the fields to one side 
a substantial building, with barns and outhouses. 
The place looked solid and comfortable, and to the 
frightened boy it seemed to call the friendliest 
greeting he had ever heard. 

“Not here, mother,” he said quickly. “Look 


26 


A BOY OF THE LOST CRUSADE 


9 


over there!” Rose steadied herseK on his shoulder 
while he pointed. “I know there’s hay in those 
barns, and that’ll be so much better than the hard 
ground, and you’ll be well after a good night’s 
sleep.” 

So he led the way across the fields, Rose by this 
time leaning heavily on him, when, just as they 
reached the nearest outhouse, an old man suddenly 
appeared in its doorway with an armful of fodder. 
For a moment he eyed them suspiciously in the 
gathering dusk, but, before he could speak, Roland 
bade him a good evening and begged for just the 
night’s shelter on the hay. 

“We belong to the Children’s Crusade,” he ex¬ 
plained, “and my comrade here is tired with the 
march.” 

The man’s face lighted up at once. “Children 
Crusaders!” he exclaimed. “I saw them pass just 
now! Yes, lie here if you want to,” he went on; 
“not that I’m the Head of the Monastery to say 
yes or no” — he shrugged a shoulder toward the 
stone building — “but you need rest, and you can 
have it for all of me or the Brothers either.” 

It was only afterward that Roland remembered 
the man’s mention of a monastery, for with the 
first permission he and Rose had turned in to the 
outhouse, and had lain down as they were on the 
soft sweet hay. Now that he came to realize it, 
his own head throbbed with pain, and to make 
matters even worse Rose seemed too ill to speak. 


A BOY OF THE LOST CRUSADE 


27 


He bent over and looked into her face as she lay 
breathing hard. 

“Lie down,” she whispered, “close beside me.” 

And so, a little reassured, he fell fast asleep, his 
head pressed against her arm. 

It must have been several hours later that he 
found himself sitting bolt upright with a feeling 
that some one was calling him, from far away. 

“Roland, little son,” he heard, with long, gasping 
pauses between the words, “go and find one of the 
Brothers. Tell him to come — oh, quickly!” 

Why, it was his mother! His own mother, only 
that he would hardly have known this agonized 
whisper for the dear voice. “One of the Brothers” 
— what did she mean? Then all at once he re¬ 
membered — the monastery and the Brothers that 
the old man had spoken of last night — and he was 
on his feet in a fiash. Just long enough to press his 
face to hers, to whisper that he would be back be¬ 
fore she knew he was gone, and he was stumbling 
along in the dark to bring her help, help that even 
he knew she needed as never before. 

Just how he got to the large main building, 
Roland never knew. He remembered beating 
frantically with both fists at a door until it opened 
and a monk stood before him, with a lantern held 
up to the roundest, kindest face that he had ever 
seen. Somehow he made the man understand that 
his brother was ill, oh, so desperately ill, out there 
in a shed. Would the Brother come to him? Of 


28 


A BOY OF THE LOST CRUSADE 


course he would come! And the voice was as kind 
as the rosy face. 

We’ll lose no time, child. Show me the way to 
him.” 

They found Rose lying quietly, but she started 
up as the monk bent over her. 

“ Don’t be afraid, my boy. I am Father Gaspard. 
So!” — as the light of his lantern fell on her scarlet 
cross — “you are one of the Holy Children!” 

“Father,” she whispered, “I can live only a few 
hours more. Pain like this ends only in one way.” 
She stopped to draw Roland’s fair little head 
closer, for, at sight of her changed face, he had flung 
himself down beside her. 

“There is something I must tell you. Father, 
and something I must ask of you. First, I am Rose 
Arnot, not the child’s brother, but his mother. 
Wait” — at the monk’s startled cry — “let me 
speak while I can. I could not let the boy go alone 
to the Crusades — oh, if you could know how my 
heart was torn at the very thought of it! — and I 
could not have gone with him if it had been known 
that I was his mother,, so I used this disguise.” 

There was another painful struggle for breath, 
then, “Very soon now he will be alone — alone!” 

The boy would never forget the agony in her 
voice and her trembling effort to draw him closer 
as though she could not let him go. 

Father Gaspard drew nearer, his crucifix raised, 
as if to lay it upon her lips. 



A BOY OF THE LOST CRUSADE 


29 


‘‘Wait” — Rose turned Roland’s head so that 
he might face the monk. “Father, this is what I 
must ask of you: The boy’s father has been in the 
Holy Land for two years. We were going with the 
Holy Children to find him.” 

Father Gaspard’s face lighted eagerly as if to 
speak, but Rose continued: 

“In the name of the Cross I have given every¬ 
thing, my husband, my child, even as I wish for the 
salvation of their souls. And as you hope for salva¬ 
tion, finish what I have begun; help my boy in the 
quest for his father! I ask much — but I have 
given my all — in the name of the Cross.” 

She lay back with her hand always between 
Roland’s two little cold ones, while Father Gaspard 
bent over her with the kindest, most pitying face 
in the world: 

“ Sleep in peace, my child! I accept your charge, 
for I myself will take your boy to the Holy Land.” 

He held his crucifix to her lips while he repeated 
the prayer for the dying; then he stepped back to 
leave the two alone. 

After some time Rose opened her eyes. “Roland, 
little son, bear your name worthily, never lose 
courage! And never stop looking for father; you 
will find him, heart of mine!” 

“Not without you, mother! Oh, let me go — 
with you —” the boy sobbed, crazed with grief, 
his arms strained around her, his cheek on hers. 
“I won’t let you go — I won’t!” 


80 


A BOY OF THE LOST CRUSADE 


And so Father Gaspard found him a little later, 
clinging to the still form; and with a world of tender¬ 
ness he lifted the boy in his arms and carried him 
to his own room. 

What happened afterward Roland never really 
knew. Sometimes he seemed to be fighting against 
great waves that tried to smother him; again the 
black water would close over his head and he would 
feel himself sink into its depths. Over and over it 
went on, his painful struggle against those cruel 
waves; then, one day, the darkness slipped sud¬ 
denly away and he opened his eyes on the blessed 
light. 

“Bravo!” he heard some one exclaim. “You 
have made a desperate fight, little lad, and you 
have won!” And over him bent, who in the world 
but Father Gaspard, with a smile as warm as the 
sunshine itself. 

Instantly everything came back to the boy, 
every minute of those black hours that had struck 
out at a blow the light of his life. What did the 
sunshine matter to him, for all its warmth and 
gladness.^ What, indeed, did anything matter, now 
that his mother was gone.^ He wanted to be alone, 
to creep away where no one could see him, and he 
closed his eyes and turned toward the wall. The 
forest at home came to his mind. Oh, if he could 
lie down under its leaves and never wake up — if 
he only could! 

“I know how it is, my child,” Father Gaspard 


A BOY OF THE LOST CRUSADE 


31 


whispered compassionately, ‘‘but hope will come 
to you, and strength; be sure of that.” 

As Roland looked into the kind face, a question 
rose to his lips, something that he wanted desper¬ 
ately to know, yet dreaded to ask. 

“Where,” he began hesitatingly, “where—” 
And for the life of him he could get no farther. 

But Father Gaspard understood. 

“In our own churchyard here, my child,” he 
said gently, “she lies at peace. A cross with her 
name. Rose Arnot, marks her rest.” 

He waited a little, for, at the sound of the dear 
name, Roland had turned again to the wall. 

“Now, my child,” the friendly voice went on, 
“ try to sleep, and to-morrow I’ll tell you what we 
are going to do — you and I!” 

The next day Father Gaspard began by saying 
that the Children’s Crusade had left Marseilles for 
the Holy Land; not, -to be sure, the army of many 
thousands with whom Roland had marched, for a 
great many of those had turned back to their 
homes when the sea refused to roll aside for them, 
but at least five thousand, enough to fill seven good- 
sized ships. For that was the way that at last 
opened to them, to cross the sea in ships. It had 
been a sight that all Marseilles had run to see, and 
rumors of it had come back even to the monastery. 

So the Children’s Crusade had gone, and with 
it Roland’s chance to find his father! Father 
Gaspard, sensing the boy’s dismay, went quickly 



32 


A BOY OF THE LOST CRUSADE 


on. Another expedition, however, was to set out 
for Palestine, neither men-at-arms nor yet in¬ 
nocent children, but soldiers of the Cross, no less; 
in fact, monks and priests, perhaps twenty all 

_ N 

told, of whom Father Gaspard, it seemed, was the 
head. 

The whole Christian world, he explained to 
Roland, was alarmed at the losses of the Crusad¬ 
ers in the Holy Land. It might be that their ar¬ 
dor for the Cross had weakened, and that Heaven 
had sent defeat to punish them. 

‘‘At any rate,” he continued earnestly, “we are 
going to take the message of the Church to our 
armies, to exhort them daily to keep faith with 
her and to set their feet straight in her paths, so 
that they may be strong to turn defeat into victory 
and to plant the banners of the Cross throughout 
Palestine.” 

So this was what he meant when he had as¬ 
sured Rose, “I myself will take the boy to the Holy 
Land!” 

“And so, lad, even though your own Crusade 
has gone without you,” Father Gaspard went on, 
“there’s another for you, and a ship to boot! 
Yes,” in answer to the boy’s leaping color, “the 
Palestina has been chartered for us, and she lies in 
the harbor of Marseilles ready to sail” — here he 
paused impressively — “ready to sail,” he repeated, 
his eyes dancing in gleeful, friendly challenge, “as 
soon as you are ready to be carried on board her!’ 


A BOY OF THE LOST CRUSADE 


33 


‘‘To-morrow!’’ Roland flashed back. “To-day 
— now!” he added almost in the same breath, and 
for the flrst time he saw, through the blackness of 
his grief, the glimmer of the magic light that we 
call hope and that we are never too tired to follow 
up the hill and beyond! 

“Thank God!” Father Gaspard whispered 
happily to himself. “The battle is won! The child 
wants to live!” But all he said aloud was, “If the 
flesh is as strong as the spirit, lad, depend upon it, 
it won’t be long!” 

Nor was it long, in fact, less than a week, on a 
day in late August, until Roland found himself 
propped in a sheltered corner of the Palestina’s 
stern, with the preparation for departure thick 
around him. There had been an easy journey from 
the monastery to Marseilles when the monks, turn 
and turn about, had carried him in a litter along 
the country roads, then through the streets of the 
old seaport, with curious crowds following, down 
to the harbor itself, rippling, rollicking, jubilant 
in the sunlight. 

It was just past noon now, the hour set for 
sailing. The noise and bustle began to subside. 
The ports through which the passengers had come 
on board were closed, and the captain was on his 
last round of inspection to make sure that every¬ 
thing was right and safe. He straightened up 
finally, quite satisfied, and nodded to Father 
Gaspard. Instantly the monk signaled his com- 


34 


A BOY OF THE LOST CRUSADE 


panions about him, and, standing together, they 
sang the fine old hymn that by now Roland him¬ 
self knew so well, “Veni, Creator Spiritus.” The 
hymn ended, and there came a moment of silence 
when every one on board stood with bowed head. 

Then a brisk word rang out from the captain, 
and the sailors set the sails which swelled at once 
to the wind. Another signal! Up came the anchor 
with a rattle and clank. The ship began to move, 
with a vague, uneasy motion; then, gathering head¬ 
way, she drove smoothly forward, past boats big 
and little, through the harbor and beyond the rock 
that guards its entrance, the Rock of Notre Dame 
de la Garde, on whose top Roland, straining his 
head back, saw far, far above him the Chapel of the 
Sailors. 

And so on into open waters! On into a sea of 
blue whose gold-tipped waves rollicked and raced 
forever outward to meet a sky that bent smiling to 
their salute. The Palestina was under way! Her 
long voyage to the country whose name she bore 
had begun! 

From the very first it seemed as if everybody 
on board waited a chance to be of service to 
Roland in one way or another, and it gave him a 
sense of warm, happy security that went a long 
way toward healing his sore little heart. The 
Brothers, of course, felt that he was their special 
charge, and there was never a time that one of 


A BOY OF THE LOST CRUSADE 


35 


them was not on the alert for his comfort or amuse¬ 
ment. Then, when he was up on his feet, and ready 
to make little trips of exploration into whatever 
niche he could climb or wedge himself, it was the 
sailors who were his guides, as eager to explain as 
he to find out. They seemed to him like delightful, 
mischievous, grown-up boys, altogether irresistible 
with their tattooed arms and legs, their big gold 
earrings, their clothes that looked as if they had 
been collected piecemeal from every port of the 
world, and their jargon of a dozen tongues and 
dialects fitted together with vivid gestures of hand 
and head and shoulder. 

Day after day of perfect sunshine and breeze 
went by, until every one declared that the un¬ 
broken run of fair weather must be due to Roland. 
After that he was hailed as the ship’s mascot. 
“Heaven grant,” said Father Gaspard, “that the 
same good fortune attends the other Children 
Crusaders.” 

Roland was never tired of Father Gaspard’s 
company, for the monk was a learned man and 
knew how to put his wisdom to interesting ends. 
He would tell, by the hour, tales of the Crusades; 
of the exploits of Tancred and his knights; of the 
proud Baldwin who had been crowned a hundred 
years ago, Palestine’s first Christian King. But, 
Father Gaspard would continue, the tide had turned 
in favor of the Saracens, things were going ill for 
the Crusaders now, and, instead of ruling Syria’s 


36 


A BOY OF THE LOST CRUSADE 


length and breadth, they were barely clinging to 
her seacoast. 

Where could his father be, Roland wondered, 
with matters at such a dubious ebb? And the 
Children Crusaders? How would they go about 
their conquest of the Holy Land? 

“It may be,” Father Gaspard suggested, “we 
shall get word of them from a passing ship or at 
some port where we stop.” 

But, though they saw plenty of sails at a dis¬ 
tance, and sometimes islands that thrust up from 
the water, bare and bold, the Palestina held stead¬ 
ily on her course. She must take advantage of 
every hour of good weather, the captain declared, 
for gales could be expected at any time now, and 
no delay was to be risked. 

In spite of the captain’s gruff ways, there was 
not a soul on the Palestina that could match either 
his fund of knowledge about winds and tides and 
water or his odds and ends of stories picked up 
in out-of-the-way corners of the world. Roland 
never forgot the night that he learned how it was 
by the stars that a ship was guided on her mysteri¬ 
ous ways. Forever after the boy felt a warm grati¬ 
tude to the Star of the North, “the Master Pilot,” 
as the captain called it. 

It was he, too, who pointed out a far line of por¬ 
poises that looked amazingly like so many plump- 
backed babies curveting, end over end, through 
the waves. Again, “Lean over the side,” he com- 


/ 


A BOY OF THE LOST CRUSADE 


37 


manded one day, “and you’ll see something.” 
And when Roland obeyed he found the water 
swarming with immense blue jellyfish that looked 
like shallow, stemless lilies afloat in their fairy 
garden. 

Sometimes the boy would seek out a place where 
he could dream by himself of the house and the 
garden in France; of the joyousness that they had 
held; of the mother that had been the heart of the 
sunshine and laughter and happiness. As he stared 
into the blue distance, lost to everything that went 
on about him, the ship and he seemed to be the 
only living things in the hollowed turquoise of sky 
and sea. 

One late afternoon, as he sat crouched in the 
bow, the captain suddenly jogged his elbow. 

“Take a good breath,” said he mysteriously, 
“a strong deep one! Now — what do you smell?” 

Roland filled his lungs. An odor delightfully, 
vaguely familiar stirred his senses. “Something 
that’s different from usual— it makes me think — ” 

“Land!” broke in the captain as if it were the 
first he had ever sighted. “That’s what it is!” He 
pointed out a dim purple line that broke the east¬ 
ern horizon. 

“The Holy Land!” he whispered in the boy’s 
ear. “To-morrow!” 


CHAPTER THREE 


Dawn found the crew of the Palestina astir. Two 
days’ work must be crowded into one, for the cap¬ 
tain had given out word of a prompt sailing for 
Egyptian ports as soon as might be after the monks 
had gone ashore. 

No sooner had the noise of the unusual bustle 
made its way to Roland’s drowsy ears than he was 
up on his feet, sure, to a certainty, of what was 
happening. “The Holy Land! To-morrow!” And 
it was to-morrow now! With that he was off for 
the deck, fastening his clothes as he ran. 

At one side of the ship. Father Gaspard and a 
group of monks stood talking eagerly, and as soon 
as they saw him they hailed him with the good 
news: “Palestine, lad!” “The Land of the Cross!” 
The next minute they had made room for him so 
that he should have the best place for his first sight 
of the famous little land. 

The line of haze of the evening before had shaped 
itself into a strip of vivid coast on which a sea of 
deepest blue beat in endless surf. Between the line 
of foam and the green inland stretches the sand 
ran like a ribbon of ruddy gold. 

Presently the Palestina changed her course to 
due east, and there came into full view a town 
whose flat-roofed houses, broken here and there by 


A BOY OF THE LOST CRUSADE 39 


a dome, gleamed white in the early sunlight — a 
curious town that looked as if it were built of huge 
blocks set so closely together that there could be 
no possible space for streets. 

‘‘Jerusalem!” Roland cried in high excitement. 
“Isn’t it.?^” 

No, not Jerusalem, the monks told him, but Jaffa. 

“Yes, Jaffa,” nodded the captain, who just then 
was passing and heard what they said. “And I 
see,” he observed, “that they mean to land you 
outside of the town — over there.” 

Following the quick gesture, Roland made out 
on the sands, just beyond the strange flat-roofed 
town, a crowd of people that were plainly waiting 
for the Crusader ship. Before he could ask the 
captain for further information, the air was rent 
by the deafening clank of the anchor chain as it 
slid over the edge, and at once, as if a signal had 
been given, there darted out from shore a swarm 
of small boats. Through the surf they shot, into 
the radiance of blue sea and gold-tipped waves and 
directly toward the Palestina. 

“Why are they coming out here?” everybody 
asked at once. “Why don’t we anchor nearer 
port?” 

“Because of low-lying reefs,” the captain ex¬ 
plained good-humoredly. “There, where you see 
that line of surf” — he pointed to the unbroken 
edge of white foam — “and the boats are coming 
out to —” 



40 


A BOY OF THE LOST CRUSADE 


His sentence was never finished, for at that mo¬ 
ment there was a flash of color among the oncom¬ 
ing fleet, and, brave and bright, there floated out 
above it the great red Cross of the Crusades. In 
an instant the Palestina rang from stern to bow 
with a cheer in which every soul on board joined 
with a will, though who the bearer of the banner 
might be none could as yet make out. 

The boats came on swiftly now through the 
dancing water, and the ship’s passengers crowded 
forward curiously to look at the men who rowed 
them. 

It was a hardy weather-beaten crew that they 
saw, whose dark eyes and strong black brows told 
one at once that they were of the Orient and not of 
the West. Their dress was of the East, too; blue cot¬ 
ton trousers, loose and full, that gathered close at 
the ankles, and a short tight jacket that scarcely 
reached a wide girdle wound several times about 
the waist and hips. Every man of them wore a red 
fez, but their feet were bare of shoes. 

They were a good-natured, noisy lot, who called 
out vivacious greetings in broken French, chattered 
to each other in a strange language, but, in spite of 
all the apparent confusion, managed their boats 
dexterously, and maintained a certain rough order. 

“What are they?” Roland ventured uneasily. 
“If they live in Palestine, aren’t they wicked 
Saracens?” 

“No more Saracens than you are, lad,” volun- 


A BOY OF THE LOST CRUSADE 


41 


teered one of the sailors who called every port on 
the Mediterranean home. “These fellows are 
Syrians, just the regular inhabitants of the country, 
with not a whit of concern in the Holy Wars.” 

The boat that flew the Cross now swung clear 
of the other craft, and its bearer was seen to be a 
tall, fair man in the full armor of the Crusaders. 
A fine, commanding figure, he kept steadily on 
his feet in spite of the slap and dash of the waves. 
The next minute he was alongside the ship, and 
had clambered up her rope ladder to the deck. 

Such a burst of welcomes and handclasps and 
inquiries as met him would have overwhelmed an 
ordinary person, but not this smiling warrior,, who 
was ready with greeting for greeting and an an¬ 
swer for each question. Every one was “ Comrade ” 
to him, and, while he gave bits of news from the 
Crusader camps, punctuated with a flashing smile, 
he made himself known as the Chevalier de Vau- 
bois, and in the next breath added, that, as his 
tongue had taken kindly to the native Arabic, he 
acted as general interpreter to the Crusader forces. 
He explained, too, to the Brothers, that they were 
to land outside Jaffa to avoid the delay of its narrow 
streets, so as to get more quickly on their way 
to the Crusader camps near Kaiserieh, Acre — he 
waved a hand toward the north — even to the Jaffa 
encampment which was a bit inland from the 
town. 

At once there was a clamor of inquiries: Who 




42 


A BOY OF THE LOST CRUSADE 


would assign them to their posts, the monks asked, 
and when? 

“To-day,” de Vaubois assured them; “and there 
is need of you. Heaven knows,” in a tone grown 
suddenly sober. “Father Constante,” he went on, 
“has arranged where each of you is to go. He’s 
over there on shore now, all ready and waiting for 
you — as, for that matter,” he smiled, “he has 
been since we knew you were coming! As soon as 
you like, then, those fellows down there,” with a 
glance at the noisy crew alongside, “are at your 
service.” 

There was a stir of preparation as each man 
took his own packet and made ready to leave the 
Palestina, while the Chevalier signaled the boats 
into line. 

“All ready!” he cried, and presently he had 
marshaled a group of monks down the ladder and 
into the nearest boat. 

Father Gaspard and Roland, quite content to 
wait their turn to the last, watched the process from 
the side of the ship, when all at once they heard one 
of the older monks ask the Chevalier if any news 
had been heard of the Children’s Crusade. 

De Vaubois looked up quickly, as if he had not 
understood: “Children’s Crusade? What do you 
mean?” 

It was the priest’s turn to be surprised: “Is it 
possible that you don’t know that the children of 
France have banded together to take Jerusalem?” 


A BOY OF THE LOST CRUSADE 


43 


‘‘Now you mention it, I do recollect that some¬ 
thing of the sort was rumored about. I’m afraid, 
though,” with a tolerant laugh, “ that it would 
need more than children to take the Holy City!” 

The monk flushed. He was plainly nettled by the 
light tone. “Why should not their young inno¬ 
cence succeed where you older ones have failed.^” 
Then, more mildly: “But, however that may be, 
they sailed from Marseilles for Palestine a fort¬ 
night ahead of us; all except,” he added, his eyes 
softening as they lighted on Roland, “the one we 
brought with us.” 

“The one you brought with you.^” the Chevalier 
repeated incredulously. And then, as he followed 
the monk’s glance and saw Roland for the first 
time, his easy assurance gave way to such dumb¬ 
founded amazement that the boy and Father 
Gaspard laughed outright. 

“It’s true enough, Chevalier,” Father Gaspard 
said, as they made their way toward him; “the lad 
is one of a multitude of others who have pledged 
themselves to the holy task. And this one,” he 
added, on sudden impulse, “has, besides, an im¬ 
portant quest.” 

“My word for it. Father,” de Vaubois replied 
seriously, “I would hardly have credited the story 
if you had not the boy along as proof! ” He reached 
out an arm and drew Roland to him with a charm¬ 
ing air of protection. “And how does it come that 
you’re all alone, without your mates — such a 


44 


A BOY OF THE LOST CRUSADE 


little chap and so far from home — will you tell 
me? Wait a bit, though,” he broke off, “we’ll get 
started for shore, first.” 

He glanced over the side, then nodded to Father 
Gaspard: “Every one’s gone but ourselves, and you 
and the lad shall go with me.” And almost before 
he knew it, Roland,^ steadied by the big Crusader 
from behind and by Father Gaspard in front, was 
down the ladder and safely in the boat that flew 
the scarlet Cross. 

“Good-bye and good luck to you!” shouted the 
captain, as it put off with its three passengers. 

“To you, too. Captain!” answered Father Gas¬ 
pard heartily, “and a thousand thanks for a safe 
voyage. But aren’t you coming ashore?” 

“Later, for water and provisions.” 

“Well,” laughed the Chevalier, “the peddlers 
and fruit vendors have been waiting for you ever 
since the Palestina was sighted. I even saw a 
shepherd with a fresh-killed sheep for sale. Every¬ 
thing to eat. Captain, from mutton to snow from 
Lebanon!” 

“Good-bye!” called Roland. “Fine weather for 
the Palestina from Jaffa to Marseilles, and” — 
with an affectionate little gesture — “good luck to 
you always, Captain, on sea and on land!” 

“Heaven keep you, lad,” the gruff voice boomed 
out over the water, “and speed your quest!” 

De Vaubois looked at Roland inquiringly: “What 
is this quest, lad, of which every one has so much 
to say?” 


A BOY OF THE LOST CRUSADE 


45 


^‘To find my father,” the boy replied simply. 
“He has been a Crusader in Palestine for two 
years. Perhaps you know him,” he ventured — 
“Robert Arnot.^” 

“Robert Arnot?” The Chevalier appeared to 
search his memory. “No, I can’t say I recall the 
name. But may Heaven bear witness if I ever 
heard the like of such a thing! To cross the sea,” 
he murmured half to himself, “and nothing but a 
child at best!” 

“Tell him how you came to do it,” Father 
Gaspard put in quickly before the boy should have 
time to dwell on his disappointment at the Cru¬ 
sader’s reply. 

So Roland told his story from the beginning, 
when he and his mother had joined the Children’s 
Crusade, to the night that she had left him to carry 
out her last brave charge. Sometimes, as the two 
men listened, they would turn their faces away, 
and more than once the Chevalier cleared his throat 
violently and ejaculated, “On my word! On my 
word — and such a little chap!” 

“And now,” Father Gaspard said in his hearty 
way, “you know the boy’s errand, to join the 
Children’s Crusade, and to find his father in this 
strange land! ” 

“My word for it that every Crusader of us shall 
make his quest our own,” cried the Chevalier. 
“Look, now, here are some of them ready to wel¬ 
come you!” 


46 


A BOY OF THE LOST CRUSADE 


At the very edge of the water stood perhaps a 
dozen men in full armor, and, as the boatmen took 
the last stroke that drove the boat swiftly forward, 
the Crusaders seized the bow and ran it well up on 
the beach. 

“Here is a new comrade at arms for you,” 
laughed de Vaubois as he swung Roland into their 
midst. “Make him welcome!” 

And, before the boy had time to feel shy, he was 
talking away with the hardy, sunburned soldiers 
as if they were so many boys of his own age. They 
could give him no news of his father, to be sure, 
but that wasn’t strange, they told him, and, as for 
finding Robert Arnot,. it was only a matter of 
thorough inquiry at the Crusader camps. “We’ll 
see to that, lad,” they assured him heartily. 

Meanwhile the Brothers had gathered round a 
tall, pale man with the saddest face Roland had 
ever seen. 

“Come here, child,” Father Gaspard beckoned, 
“and pay your respects to Father Constante. I 
have told him about you.” 

The monk’s melancholy face lighted as Roland 
came up to him. 

“So!” he smiled. “A little lad for such mighty 
tasks as Heaven has set you!” He laid his hands 
on the boy’s shoulders and looked deep into the 
blue eyes. “Ah! if they all are like that,” he said 
half to himself, “there is hope for the Holy City!” 
Then, turning to the monks around him, “You 


A BOY OF THE LOST CRUSADE 


47 


say,” he asked, ‘‘that you heard no word of the 
Children at the ports along the way?” 

“None, Father,” one of them replied, “for the 
Palestina made no stops.” 

“News of them will come, however,” Father 
Constante observed confidently. “It’s bound to, 
by land or by sea. But now,” he went on, “our 
business is to lose no time in setting out for your 
various destinations.” And he began at once to 
assign the monks to their posts. Father Gaspard, 
he said, would be stationed in no one place, but 
was to visit the camps from time to time, as he 
was needed. 

“But the boy. Brother,” Father Gaspard broke 
in impulsively — and Roland saw a look of anxiety 
on the kind, round face — “how can I keep him by 
me in the plan you propose? We must not be 
separated, unless—” 

“Oh, he will be well looked after,” the other 
interrupted a little impatiently, “in any of our 
camps.” And, as if the matter were settled, he 
went on in his sad way: “Ah! There is so much for 
you to do! You must make our men feel that only 
righteous lives may win a righteous cause! Why 
have they lost Jerusalem” — his voice deepened 
into stern despair — “the very heart of the Holy 
Land? Because their hands were too soiled to 
hold the holy places!” 

There was a startled movement among the 
monks at the grim words, and even Roland shrank 




48 


A BOY OF THE LOST CRUSADE 


away from this pale, austere man who smiled so sel¬ 
dom and who made him, somehow, uncomfortable. 
He threw himself down on the warm sand, for he 
was still a little unsteady from the motion of the 
boat, and, besides, he felt drowsy and hungry. The 
laughing and talking of the Crusaders who were 
chatting with the boatmen attracted his attention. 
Then his eyes roved to a group of men who sat 
cross-legged on the sand, beside baskets heaped 
with great clusters of tawny gold grapes, and trays 
of snow partly covered with leaves. They must be 
the peddlers that the Chevalier had mentioned to 
the captain of the Palestina, and they were probably 
waiting now for the crew to come ashore. 

Presently the Chevalier himself sauntered up to 
a fruit vendor, handed him a coin, took something 
from his stores, and strolled over to Roland. 

‘‘Your first taste of Syrian fruit, boy,” said he. 
“Hold out your hands! Olives,” he explained as he 
poured out a handful of smooth-skinned berries, 
glistening and purple-black. “ Every one eats them 
here,” he went on, “so you must like them, willy- 
nilly!” 

Roland bit into one: “I do like them — they 
taste the way sea air smells!” 

“Come to think of it, they do, don’t they!” 
laughed the man. “Well, then, when you’ve had 
your fill of them, here are some dates for your 
sweet tooth.” He laid a cluster of the sticky fruit 
before the boy, and then sat down beside him. 


A BOY OF THE LOST CRUSADE 


49 


Roland munched away contentedly enough, when 
all at once he happened to glance up. 

In that moment he forgot the Palestina and the 
peddlers, forgot the Crusaders, even Father Con- 
stante and the priests. For there, on the sands, 
a few yards away, a man with the most remarkable 
face he had ever seen stood eyeing him intently. 


CHAPTER FOUR 


Among the careless, chattering bystanders he was 
a somber figure in the rough black abba ^ that 
hung loose from neck to ankle, and the dark turban 
bound around his temples by a cord. Head and 
shoulders above the crowd, and magnificently 
straight, he had a look of lean strength that made 
one know he had always lived outdoors, and at once 
you fancied him striding along, undisturbed and 
irresistible, in the teeth of the wind. 

But it was something besides his dress and his 
physical strength that caught Roland’s attention 
and held him fascinated and bewildered. At first 
glance he had the impression of the sweetest, gayest 
smile, yet the man’s mouth was quite unmoved, 
even melancholy. Ah! It was the eyes that held 
the secret and solved the mystery. Dark and deep- 
set, they fairly laughed aloud, and at the same 
time declared, “I love you!” Quite unconsciously 
Roland’s lips answered the strange beautiful eyes 
and broke into a smile. 

From where he stood, the man said something 
in a foreign language to the Chevalier. De Vaubois 
shrugged his shoulders a trifle impatiently and an¬ 
swered him offhand. Without the slightest change 
of voice or manner the stranger repeated himself. 

^ Long outer garment. 


A BOY OF THE LOST CRUSADE 


51 


The Crusader looked a little discomfited; then he 
began to talk. Every once in a while he would 
glance at the boy by his side. 

Now, though Roland could understand not one 
word of what was said, he knew that the man with 
the deep, smiling eyes had asked a question about 
him and that the Chevalier was telling him what he 
wished to know. A curious little feeling that some¬ 
thing was going to happen, indeed, had already 
begun to happen, made him sit up tingling with 
curiosity. 

As the conversation went on, a ring of listeners 
formed, grew larger presently, and drew in more 
closely. The Franks understood only a word or 
two here and there, but the natives followed all that 
was said with the closest attention. 

Just then the group of monks about Father Con- 
stante broke up, and he signed to the Crusaders to 
make ready now to go. Then, for the first time, 
he noticed the crowd around the Chevalier. 

“What is all this.^” he demanded impatiently. 

De Vaubois laughed. “About our new Crusader, 
Father. You see that person over there?” He 
pointed out the straight, agile figure. “It appears 
that from the moment he saw Roland he has been 
unable to take his eyes off him. He demands to 
know why the lad is here. At first I evaded him, 
but he insisted, and, to get rid of him, told him 
what I knew.” 

“Well,” said Father Constante, as if to end the 


52 


A BOY OF THE LOST CRUSADE 


matter, “we need every moment of daylight; sup¬ 
pose we get on our way.” 

Scarcely were the words out of his mouth than 
there was a sudden commotion among the by¬ 
standers, and, without so much as a glance to right 
or left, the man in question had shouldered them 
aside and made his way straight to Roland. He 
smiled down on the boy a moment, then once more 
he addressed de Vaubois. 

The Crusader stared at him in blank astonish¬ 
ment; then he laughed; finally he interpreted rap¬ 
idly: “He says that, as long as the boy is with¬ 
out his parents, he himself will take care of him — 
he wishes to know who has charge of him at pres¬ 
ent!” 

Up to this moment Father Gaspard had been so 
absorbed in Father Constante’s plans that he had 
noticed neither Roland nor the Chevalier nor the 
group of listeners around them. But the words 
interpreted from Arabic to French, and spoken so 
every one could hear them, startled him from his 
reverie. 

Who has charge of him? ’ ” he repeated wrath- 
fully, as he strode through the crowd. “Who asks 
such a question? Who is it that proposes to take 
him out of my hands? Wlio — I—” the words 
died on his lips as, for the first time, he saw the 
stranger who stood beside Roland. 

The two stared hard at each other, the Syrian 
smiling, the Frank outraged. Then Roland, look- 


A BOY OF THE LOST CRUSADE 


53 


ing from one face to the other, saw the anger in 
Father Gaspard’s fade slowly into bewilderment. 

The boy laughed. ‘T like him, don’t you.^” he 
said in a relieved tone. 

Without answering, the monk turned to the 
Crusaders. ‘‘Who is he.^” he demanded. “Do you 
know him.f^” 

“Oh, yes,” de Vaubois volunteered, “every one 
knows him. He’s one of the shepherds who pasture 
their flocks up and down the Shephelah, these low 
hills to the east.” 

“A Syrian shepherd, you say?” put in Father 
Constante, unexpectedly. He leaned forward, his 
indifference gone, and looked from the man to 
Father Gaspard and then to Roland with a new 
interest. 

“A Syrian, yes, because he’s a native of this 
country,” the Chevalier replied, “but, as a matter of 
fact, he’s a Jew. He goes by the name of Samson, 
II Yahoodi, a name, let me tell you. Father, that 
stands for honesty and kindness hereabout. I’ll 
say that for it and him!” 

During the fire of questions and answers between 
the Franks the shepherd had remained silent and 
unmoved, except once or twice when he and Roland 
exchanged a glance of friendly understanding. But 
when Tie heard his name pronounced, he seemed to 
come to some decision, and began to speak to the 
Chevalier, slowly at first, then rapidly and very 
urgently. , 


54 


A BOY OF THE LOST CRUSADE 


“He says,” translated the Crusader, “that he 
would like to have the boy until his father is found; 
and that if you,” nodding to Father Gaspard, “are 
to go from camp to camp, Roland, here, won’t have 
your steady care. He can offer that, as well as good 
food and shelter.” 

“The most preposterous proposition I ever 
heard!” burst out Father Gaspard. “Why, in the 
first place, the man is a stranger to me.” 

“Oh, but I want to go with him!” Roland broke 
in unexpectedly. “He isn’t a stranger to me — I 
like him!” 

There was an instant of amazed silence and then 
a roar of laughter at Father Gaspard’s expense, 
and, before he could find his voice. Father Con- 
stante stepped up to him and laid a hand on his 
shoulder. 

“Brother,” said he, “it doesn’t seem to me so 
bad a plan! Consider it.” 

Another turn to affairs! Again there was a gasp 
of surprise among the Crusaders and a smothered 
exclamation from Roland as he recognized in the 
sad-faced Father an ally of himself and Samson. 

It was as the shepherd had said. Father Con- 
stante continued. The boy was scarcely well from 
a severe illness and must be carefully tended in this 
country, where everything was new to him. 

Roland’s eyes went anxiously from one face to 
the other. If only they would let him go with 
Samson, into the freedom of the sky and sunshine! 


A BOY OF THE LOST CRUSADE 


55 


He wanted to climb trees, to run till he was out of 
breath, to throw himself down on the ground for 
as long as he liked, to watch the white clouds drift 
across the sky like lazy sheep. And then Samson 
himself! From the moment Roland had looked 
into those smiling eyes, he knew that they under¬ 
stood him, liked what he liked. Yes, the shepherd 
was a man grown, three times as old as he and more, 
but a boy for all that, a magnificent playfellow! 

‘‘Your argument sounds reasonable. Brother,” 
Father Gaspard was saying slowly, “but the pledge 

I made to the boy’s mother lies heavy on my heart.” 

“As for that,” put in de Vaubois, “he’ll be far 
better off with this shepherd in the open than in 
one of our camps. Besides,” he added, “the Shep- 
helah is within easy distance of Jaffa, and you can 
ride up to see the boy for yourself whenever you are 
there.” 

He turned to Samson for a moment, then back to 
Father Gaspard: 

“He says he has a hut in the hills and that he’s 
never far from it. He’s down here just for the day, 
to sell some sheep. Make yourself easy. Father,” 
the Chevalier ended with conviction, “he’s the 
kindest shepherd in the country and as honest as 
he is kind — I’ve been up and down here for some 
years now, and I can vouch for that. My word for 
it, the lad is in good hands if he’s with Samson, 

II Yahoodi.” 

That settled matters, and Samson knew it. 



56 


A BOY OF THE LOST CRUSADE 


though he understood not a word of the Chevalier’s 
French. A jubilant hail of comradeship flashed be¬ 
tween him and Roland. 

“One thing more,” Father Gaspard broke in 
anxiously, “how is the little lad to travel.? He’s 
hardly fit to walk far.” 

“He won’t have to,” de Vaubois laughed. 
“There’s always some one on these roads ready 
to give one a lift. But I’ll ask Samson.” 

The shepherd replied without a moment’s hesita¬ 
tion, and as he spoke Roland watched him, fasci¬ 
nated. The words came so clearly, every sound 
as true and perfect as the trilled notes of a bird’s 
song. He resolved to begin learning Arabic that 
very day. 

Just then a curious figure edged up through the 
bystanders to Samson and spoke to him. Such an 
old man he was, so bent that he could hardly look 
up into one’s face, with such a thin, cracked voice, 
and skin that was a brown network of wrinkles! 
Roland drew back from him with a feeling of 
aversion. 

The shepherd nodded casually to what the old 
man had to say, and de Vaubois translated it at 
once to Father Gaspard. 

“Here’s some one, now, who offers his donkey 
to the boy; a peddler, going Samson’s way. TMiile 
we were about it. Father,” he continued, “we’ve 
agreed on a rendezvous, Samson and I, where he 
and the boy are to meet us in three weeks pre- 


A BOY OF THE LOST CRUSADE 


57 


cisely.” He was silent a moment; then, “And, as 
it’s on hostile ground,” he concluded “better let 
me go alone the first time.” 

It was still an hour to noon, but cool enough to 
suit any one, with a fresh breeze that raced in off 
the sea with a tang of salt. The Crusaders moved 
briskly about among their horses, making final 
preparations for the journey, while the monks stood 
about divided between impatience to be off and 
dread of their first experience in a strange land. 
The Chevalier and 'Father Gaspard, with Roland 
between them, sat down on the sand to wait for 
Samson and the old peddler to get the donkey.. 

“Well, lad,” the Crusader said half enviously, 
“this will be a fine new experience for you. To be 
a boy with all outdoors before one — what more 
could one ask.^ Come, now, suppose we exchange 
places!” 

Roland laughed delightedly, but at the thought 
of leaving Father Gaspard he turned suddenly 
sober. 

The monk drew the boy close to him. “ I believe, 
my child,” he said, “that we’ve chosen as your 
mother would have us, or I could never consent to 
have you out of my sight for an hour. You’ll never 
be out of my thoughts, nor your father, for whom 
I shall make search at every camp. But, bless my 
soul” — as a clatter of hoofs made them all turn 
round — “what is all this.^” 

To the rear of them appeared Samson and the 


58 


A BOY OF THE LOST CRUSADE 


peddler, and between them trotted a donkey, a 
brisk little beast with a pretty, intelligent face and 
a pair of wagging ears. He was loaded with sacks 
that bulged out over his sides, and around his 
head was a bridle elaborately worked with colored 
beads. 

“There’s your steed, Roland!” cried de Vaubois, 
who never lost a chance to banter. 

Just then the donkey caught sight of the horses. 
For a second the wagging ears came to an alert 
standstill, then, with an eager, deafening bray, the 
little fellow started off, a cloud of dust and flying 
hoofs. But if he could run, so could Samson; and 
Roland, breathless with laughter, saw the shepherd 
bound forward, seize those furry ears and swing 
their owner clean around and away from the goal 
toward which he was headed. 

“All ready now, are you, Samson?” de Vaubois 
called while the peddler straightened the load. 
“Shall the boy mount — yes?” Then, in French, 
“ Here you are, Roland, up with you! ” And Roland, 
half clambering, half lifted, found himself astride 
the strong little back and looking out over the 
shaggy head. 

Samson turned to the Crusader and began to 
speak, with now and then an earnest glance at 
Father Gaspard. 

“He assures you,” translated the Chevalier, 
“that the boy is as the apple of his eye; and he 
gives you his salutation, ‘Peace be with you.’” 


A BOY OF THE LOST CRUSADE 59 

The monk looked long into the beautiful smiling 
eyes. 

“You’re in safe hands, Roland, lad,” he said 
at last. “May peace be with us all,” he added 
gently. 

“We shall see you before long,” called the 
Chevalier gayly, as he and Father Gaspard went 
on to join the waiting monks. 

Roland, between the peddler and Samson, stood 
aside for a moment to watch the little procession 
of armored figures and black-robed Brothers. Then 
Samson took the bridle and turned the donkey’s 
head to the east. As he did so, there passed be¬ 
tween him and the peddler a glance of vast amuse¬ 
ment. With the swiftness of a rapier thrust it came 
and vanished. But in that fleeting second Roland 
saw the peddler’s eyes grow wide and young and 
unbelievably, unforgettably keen; and then, as 
quickly, fade into blurred slits under his brown 
wrinkled eyelids. For some moments he puzzled 
over the look that the two men had exchanged. 
It startled, even frightened him a little. WTiat 
could it mean? Why were they so amused? Above 
all, by what miracle could those old eyes become 
so young? He half turned to steal a glance at the 
wizened figure. There he was, shuffling along at 
the donkey’s heels, apparently indifferent to every¬ 
thing around him. 

The shepherd, on the contrary, swung vigorously, 
along, his friendly eyes never long away from Ro- 


60 


A BOY OF THE LOST CRUSADE 


land. Nothing to fear, the boy told himself, with 
Samson looking at him like that; Samson, who had 
flung wide to him the doors of a new world where 
adventure smiled and beckoned! 


CHAPTER FIVE 


By mid-afternoon they had left the orange groves 
and the gardens and the hedges of the plain. The 
road grew steeper, the land rougher and more open, 
and, farther on, to the east, it broke into low, sunny 
ridges. Sometimes the flat roofs of a hillside village 
gleamed white against the deep blue sky. Thickets 
of scrub oak, and orchards of trees covered with 
stiff gray-green leaves, alternated with patches of 
yellow grain. On the western horizon glittered the 
edge of distant sea. A pungent smell of field herbs 
mingled with the salt of the breeze, and the sun- 
flooded air, vibrant with warmth and fragrance, 
made an atmosphere of purest gold. Roland drew 
a long satisfied breath; for the first time in weeks 
he felt light-hearted and ready for anything. 

Sometimes the peddler would turn the donkey 
from the traveled way into a short cut over a hill 
or through a valley; but whether they were on the 
road or off it, they were seldom out of sight or of 
sound of people at work in the orchards and the 
stone-terraced fields. The men wore full blue or 
white trousers and short, close jackets, or long, 
scant robes with broad girdles; and the women, 
severely plain dresses of dark blue with while veils 
that fell back off their faces. There were children, 
too, little copies of their fathers and mothers, only 


m A BOY OF THE LOST CRUSADE 

that the girls had bright cotton kerchiefs tied over 
their dark hair. 

They all greeted Samson familiarly, while they 
eyed Roland as if they would have liked to ask who 
he was had not the peddler kept the donkey up to 
the business of trotting briskly ahead. 

Presently Roland noticed a flat space circled by 
stones and covered with yellow harvested grain that 
looked, gleaming in the sun, like a gold plate laid 
on the brown earth. Round and round it, a sturdy 
little ox, driven by a boy, drew a sledge over the 
wheat stalks. As Roland watched them slip easily 
around the yellow floor, he guessed that they 
were separating the kernels from the chaff. Not 
so dull a way, he thought half enviously, to pass a 
day! And no sooner had he thought it than he 
looked up to find Samson’s eyes on him, brimming 
over with mischievous challenge. Roland laughed 
delightedly. The shepherd was as much a boy as 
he, and here was the proof! The next moment Sam¬ 
son had swung him onto the sledge, and, at the 
driver’s nod of consent, gathered up the reins — 
and they were off, over the slippery, shining wheat. 
Once in a while the two exchanged glances. 

“You see!” said the dark eyes. “This is one 
reason why I wanted you, so we could play to¬ 
gether!” 

“I knew it!” answered the blue eyes. “That’s 
why I wanted to come!” 

And that was Roland’s first' introduction to 


A BOY OF THE LOST CRUSADE 


63 


Syrian life. Years after, at the smell of grain or 
straw he could shut his eyes and feel himself glid¬ 
ing over the wheat-strewn floor; see the sky as it 
was that day, a bowl of fairest blue that rested on 
the rim of sunny hills. 

When they were on their way once more, the old 
peddler a silent figure at the donkey’s heels, Sam¬ 
son took from his girdle a long brown roll that he 
spread before Roland. Could it be bread, the boy 
wondered, this great sheet, thin and pliable, and 
so large that he could scarcely put his arms around 
it? He tore off a bit of it and tasted it. Yes, bread! 
And so good that before he knew it he had eaten 
half of the loaf. 

Samson watched him with huge approval; then 
he touched the brown sheet and spoke a single 
word. Roland understood that it was the native 
name for bread and that he was having his first 
lesson in Arabic. It was a little hard and began 
with a crisp guttural, but he managed it finally, 
and repeated it, to Samson’s satisfaction. In the 
same way he learned the name for donkey and for 
ox. Three words that he was sure of, and to-morrow 
he would double that number. In no time, Samson 
and he would be talking, he thought joyously. 

As the day grew late, Roland began to think of 
Samson’s house — he remembered that the Cheva¬ 
lier had called it a hut. He found himself wonder¬ 
ing, too, where Father Gaspard and the others were 
by this time. How long it seemed since he had seen 


64 


A BOY OF THE LOST CRUSADE 


them, and how much had happened in these few 
hours! Darkness came all at once, and the stars, 
larger and more brilliant than any he had ever seen 
before. Still the little donkey trudged on, picking 
his way carefully over the stones. The boy grew 
drowsy, so drowsy that he swayed in his seat. In¬ 
stantly Samson’s arm was around him, and he set¬ 
tled down comfortably among the packs. 

A blur of memories drifted across his mind: His 
mother — if she could only know how well he 
was to be taken care of! And his father — per¬ 
haps at this very moment he was looking at these 
same stars! A shadowy procession streamed be¬ 
fore his sleepy eyes: Father Gaspard, the Crusader 
soldiers he had seen that morning, the Children 
Crusaders; and, at their head, his mother, shining, 
triumphant! On her shoulder he could see the red 
cross. Yes, all up and down the long line, the red 
cross on breast or shoulder. The procession melted 
away into darkness, the red crosses turned into 
great luminous stars, and Roland knew nothing 
more until he felt himself lifted off the donkey, 
carried a few steps in some one’s arms, and laid 
down on something deliciously soft and warm. 

For a moment he half opened his eyes to see 
where he was. In the dim light he made out Sam¬ 
son, and just behind him — who.^ The peddler? 
The dark wrinkled skin, to be sure, was unchanged, 
but the body, slender and straight as an arrow, and 
the eyes that glowed like black light — whose were 


A BOY OF THE LOST CRUSADE 65 

they? His thoughts flew back to that curious 
glance of the morning when for one quick second 
he had seen the blurred old eyes turn young and 
daring. He tried to rouse himself, to force his 
heavy eyelids open so that he might make sure 
whether or not he was dreaming, but for the life of 
him they would close. He sank back unresistingly 
into his coverings, and then — darkness, sleep. 

The next morning he lay for some moments try¬ 
ing to think where he was. Gradually all that had 
happened yesterday came back to him, the land¬ 
ing at Jaffa, the ride from the coast to the hills 
with Samson and the old peddler. Where had he 
gone, he wondered, and, wide awake now, he sat 
up and looked about. 

He found himself quite alone in a curious low- 
roofed room with stone walls and a clay floor 
smooth and hard. This must be Samson’s hut of 
which the Chevalier had spoken, he told himself, 
for, though it was such a bare little place, it had 
an air of rough-and-ready comfort and somehow 
reminded one of Samson. Moreover, the shep¬ 
herd’s abba lay on the coverings that had kept 
Roland so warm all night, and which he saw, now, 
were a pile of woolly sheepskins. Over in one corner 
there were some red earthen jars, a huge metal 
bowl, and some covered baskets of closely woven, 
brightly colored straw. In the doorway hung a 
bag made of the skin of some animal. It was half 
full and looked smooth and moist. “That’s to hold 
water,” Roland decided, and he was right. 


66 


A BOY OF THE LOST CRUSADE 


Samson couldn’t be far off, he concluded; he 
would step out and find him. He paused a moment 
on the threshold to look about. It was beautiful, 
this Syrian out-of-doors! The low, rough hills 
touched to gold by the early sunlight, and the little 
valleys that nestled between them in blue shadow 
— why, it was the very place for a boy, he thought 
happily. He would run at once to the crest of the 
rise just beyond, to see what was on the other side, 
and probably he would meet Samson somewhere 
along the way. 

But, just as he turned the corner of the hut, he 
found himself facing a building that was too curious 
to be passed by. It was really a large enclosed 
space partly roofed, and partly open to the sky, 
with thick walls that were easily above a man’s 
height, and were topped, their whole length, by a 
mass of dried thorn. At one corner was an en¬ 
trance, and, just as Roland walked up to look in¬ 
side it, Samson appeared from within. He laughed 
delightedly and drew the boy quickly in to him, 
as if to say, ‘‘ Come along, little comrade, here’s 
something for you to see.” 

At one end of the enclosure, their fleecy backs 
huddled together so closely that one could almost 
have walked over them, Roland saw a flock of 
sheep. There was a quick movement among them 
as they saw him, two or three uneasy bleats, and 
here and there a pair of tossing horns. 

Samson said something gently to the startled 


A BOY OF THE LOST CRUSADE 


67 


animals and they quieted down at once. ‘‘He treats 
them as if they were his children/’ thought the boy, 
immensely interested and amused. Then Samson 
spoke again, this time in quick short syllables as 
though he were giving an order, while at the same 
time he stepped out of doors. Out came the flock 
after him, timidly at first, then faster and faster; 
and now Roland noticed their peculiar tails, great 
broad appendages that almost covered the hind 
legs, and must have weighed several pounds. 

As soon as the sheep were out of their fold some 
of them began to stray off at once in search of fresh 
grass, when, suddenly, in the doorway behind them, 
appeared a huge ram. Roland shrank back against 
a wall and stared at the great creature in wonder. 
On the formidable head was a pair of horns so un¬ 
matched in size that it was hard to account for 
their belonging to the same owner. One was short 
and straight, the other, as fierce a specimen of 
horny twists and curves as ever grew, and rough 
and knotted as a gnarled root. But more noticeable 
than the horns was the ram’s air of cool, sagacious 
impudence, as he stood still and surveyed the flock 
as a general might review his forces. 

All at once his eyes lighted on the sheep that had 
scattered. Down went his head, and at a bound he 
was upon them, hustling and jostling and bunting 
them until they joined their comrades. That done, 
he at once made for Samson and began to nuzzle 
the shepherd’s broad girdle, and to pull at it with 


68 


A BOY OF THE. LOST CRUSADE 


lips and teeth, until, finally, out of the loosened 
folds the rough tongue drew a small lump of salt. 
When he had licked the last grain down, he looked 
up expectantly. 

Samson stepped back several paces and raised 
his arms straight to the side. As quick as light¬ 
ning the ram charged forward and almost under 
the right arm; but, just as swiftly, the shepherd’s 
hand shot out, seized the lowered head by its long 
gnarled horn, and brought the big animal up half 
standing. 

Back went the ram to his starting-point and 
again the long arms met and stopped him. But 
the third time, just as he seemed about to drive 
straight for Samson’s left side, he swerved swiftly 
to his right and with one bound shot past him and 
away. 

“Bravo!” Roland cried again and again, and, 
though neither man nor ram had ever heard the 
word before, they knew what it meant, and went 
at their tilt with a spirit that left the boy spell¬ 
bound at such strength and skill. Furious straight¬ 
away charges, quick turns, sidewise lunges, with 
not an inch given or taken; and at last, a burst 
of rough-and-tumble play that ended the battle, 
when Samson seized the ram’s head, shook him 
gently back and forth, and pushed him over full 
length on the ground. 

Roland ran up to them and buried his hands 
caressingly in the woolly neck. Samson laughed 


69 


A BOY OF THE LOST CRUSADE 

delightedly. As he had foreseen, these two would 
be fast friends. He laid his hand on the animal and 
repeated some syllables several times. Roland knew 
that this must be the ram’s name, and he imitated 
the sounds as best he could. Finally, to his joy, 
the wet black nose nuzzled his hand, as if to say, 
‘‘I know what you mean!” Before many days 
Roland found that this name applied to the un¬ 
evenly matched horns, and meant Father of Big 
and Little,^ shortened to Abou, and Abou Kbeer, 
for every day use. 

Samson sprang up now, and beckoned Roland 
into the hut. Out of the tall earthen jar in the 
corner he took a round white cake and gave it to 
the boy. Roland bit into it eagerly. It was cheese! 
Not like any other cheese he had ever tasted, 
but fresh and sweet, and wonderfully appetizing. 
Then Samson uncovered the other jars and the 
bright baskets. There was brown meal in one, tiny 
round lentils in another; and in still another, a 
quantity of black olives. “Help yourself!” Sam¬ 
son’s smile said, and Roland, hungry enough by 
this time, took a handful of the fruit. 

He was still munching away when Samson went 
out and, at one sweep of the hand, it seemed to 
Roland, gathered some dry thorn and lighted it into 
a crackling blaze. As soon as it was going well, 
with more brush heaped on, he put over it the 
huge metal bowl that Roland had noticed, and then, 

^ Abou Kbeer wa Zgheer. 


70 


A BOY OF THE LOST CRUSADE 


in the same dexterous way that he did everything, 
mixed dough out of meal and water. Presently 
he had shaped a handful of it into a great thin 
sheet which he tossed onto the heated metal. A 
minute more, and off it came, brown and sweet, 
the counterpart of the bread Roland had eaten 
yesterday. Another sheet went onto the bowl, and 
another, until the dough was gone, and there was 
a pile of the unleavened loaves. 

In two of them Samson put some olives, made a 
roll of them, and tucked it into his girdle. 

“WeTe off now!” he smiled at Roland, and led 
the way to where the sheep waited, with Abou 
standing guard. 

Samson called out something that was plainly, 
“Come along! Come along!” and like obedient 
children the flock moved after him. This was just 
as he had imagined him yesterday, Roland thought 
to himself, as he watched the agile, powerful figure. 
One could see in every movement that this man 
was a part of the great out-of-doors. And it was an 
outdoors worth belonging to, this world of sunny 
hills and glad skies! 

To the west the green belt of plain rolled away 
to meet the sea that glittered like a knife edge on 
the horizon. Somewhere along its shore were the 
Crusader camps, Roland said to himself; and, be¬ 
tween them and him, all yesterday’s journey with 
Samson and the peddler. 

That mysterious peddler! What a way he had 


A BOY OF THE LOST CRUSADE 


71 


of possessing one’s fancy! Who was he, and where 
had he disappeared? 

Roland suddenly stepped square in front of 
Samson, hunched his shoulders over, sank his chin 
on his breast, and almost closed his eyes. Then 
as quickly he drew himself up straight, and threw 
out both his hands in a wide gesture, his eyes 
searching the shepherd’s for the answer. And 
Samson understood! — though it was some minutes 
before he could speak for laughing at the dumb 
show and mimicry. At last he pointed to the east, 
where the land rose high and bare against the sky, as 
much as to say, “That is where he has gone — over 
there.” And to find out that much in a wordless 
conversation, Roland told himself, was something! 

By this time Abou had relaxed his vigilance 
and applied himself to a tuft of grass. The sheep 
spread out in leisurely fashion and cropped here 
and there, while Samson, from the slope above, 
kept a watchful eye on the stragglers. 

Now and then Roland thought he heard human 
voices at a distance, or was it only the cry of some 
bird or animal? All at once a child’s laughter rang 
out so clearly that the boy started, for he had 
thought that, except for the sheep, Samson and he 
were quite alone. He looked around inquiringly. 
Samson laughed and held out his hand, as if to say, 
“Come along, if you want to see the owner of that 
voice! 

At the turn of the valley, where the sheep 


72 


A BOY OF THE LOST CRUSADE 


browsed, they came on a grove, of the trees that 
Roland had noticed all along the way yesterday 
for their gray-green foliage; and, now that he was 
near them, he saw, among the stiff little leaves, 
the berries that he recognized as olives. The next 
moment he knew where the voices had come from, 
for everywhere through the orchard he saw groups 
of men and women and children talking and laugh¬ 
ing while they gathered the olives into sacks and 
baskets. 

There was a sudden lull as he and Samson ap¬ 
peared, and a fire of curious glances that brought 
the blood to the boy’s face; then one of the men 
called to Samson and beckoned to him, as if they 
were old friends, to come where he was at work 
with several children and a pretty dark-eyed 
woman. The children hung back and watched 
Roland shyly from behind the trees, but their 
mother ran up to him with a cry of wonder and 
began to admire his bright hair so openly and to 
stroke it with such delighted little gestures that in 
a minute he felt at home with her. 

Meanwhile Samson was speaking, with a glance 
at Roland or a sweep of his arm toward the sea; 
and, from the man’s eager questions and the 
woman’s pitying little exclamations, the story was 
plainly the one he had heard at Jaffa yesterday 
from the Chevalier. 

The children forgot their shyness as Samson 
talked, and came out from behind the trees and 


A BOY OF THE LOST CRUSADE 


73 


gathered round Roland. The next thing he knew, 
they had somehow drawn him off with them into 
what he recognized at once as hide and seek. He 
had often played it at home with his father and 
mother, and now, here, in this land across the sea, 
the familiar game was waiting for him! In and out 
between the trees they ran, behind the gnarled 
trunks, this way and that, until Roland, out of 
breath with laughing, forgot that he had ever 
been ill. 

After that he came often to the olive orchards, 
and, almost before he knew it, he had learned so 
many Arabic words that, to his delight and Sam¬ 
son’s, he could actually make short sentences. 

He found that each family had a little booth 
made of poles and branches where they slept; that 
the women cooked their food outdoors in tiny clay 
fireplaces, and their bread, as Samson did, on a huge 
metal bowl over a hot flame. The children made 
him understand that this was not their real home, 
and that, by and by, when the olives were all 
picked, they would go away — they pointed off 
indefinitely — back where they lived. 

From the very first they called him ^^Saleebi,”^ 
for both from him and from Samson they learned 
why he had left his country and had come to 
theirs. They were immensely interested to hear 
about his father, and they promised to ask every 
one they knew for news of Robert Arnot. 

* Crusader. 


74 


A BOY OF THE LOST CRUSADE 


But about the Crusades they were quite indiffer¬ 
ent. Roland couldn’t understand that. 

“Have you seen any of the battles.^” he would 
ask eagerly. “Don’t you want the Crusaders to 
take Jerusalem.^” 

No, they hadn’t seen the fighting, though they 
had heard of it, and, as for Jerusalem, what differ¬ 
ence would it make to them, one way or the other 
But the Saleebiyin ^ themselves, that was another 
matter! For these great strapping strangers with 
“hair from the sun,’’ these “Frangi”^ with their 
fine free ways, were a source of endless wonder to 
the dark-eyed Syrians. Sometimes, it seemed, they 
would ride through a village, and for just a handful 
of figs or grapes they would toss gold and silver 
coins on the ground to see which child would be 
first to catch them! 

There were all sorts of games that Roland learned 
from the Syrian children, and some that he taught 
them. But, whatever it was that they did or played, 
there was one boy, Rasheed, who was always try¬ 
ing to get the best of him 

Rasheed was at least two years older than Roland, 
a good deal of a tease and something of a bully. If 
it was a race that they ran, he won it, or if it was 
tag that they played, the Frangi boy was sure to 
be his victim. There was only one thing at which 
he could be beaten, and that was climbing trees. 
The boys might start together, but, while Rasheed 

^ Crusaders. ^ Franks. 



A BOY OF THE LOST CRUSADE 


75 


was still halfway up, Roland had passed him and 
was at the top of some swaying branch that seemed 
scarcely able to bear his weight. 

One day he found the Syrian boy aiming at a 
mark with stones from a sling. He would select 
a smooth round pebble, place it, swing the sling 
swiftly round, and, with a dexterous turn of the 
wrist, send the stone whistling through the air full 
at the target. Roland looked on, fascinated and 
half envious. Finally he could bear it no longer. 

“Let me try,” he begged. 

Rasheed smiled condescendingly. 

“Try, Saleebi,” he said, “but you can’t do it.” 
And he was right. Roland couldn’t. 

A good deal crestfallen, he gave it up, when all 
at once he happened to remember how his father 
had taught him to use a bow and arrow. He would 
show his rival a thing or two yet! 

All that day and the next he spent in selecting 
branches of oak which he whittled and shaped into 
a bow and arrow; and when, at last, he set up a 
target and began to aim at it, it was Rasheed’s 
turn to be envious. Here was something he 
couldn’t do. 

That evening, when Roland started to go back 
to Samson, he suddenly missed his arrow. Every 
one looked for it, high and low, but it was gone. 
Suddenly he caught Rasheed watching him out of 
the corner of a mischievous black eye, and that 
moment he gave up the search. 


76 


A BOY OF THE LOST CRUSADE 


“ No matter,” he said, with a show of indiffer¬ 
ence, ‘‘we’ll find it to-morrow — and, besides,” he 
called over his shoulder as he walked off, “it’s easy 
enough to make another.” > 

But he had no intention of doing that. He would 
make Rasheed give up the one he had taken; yet, 
how to do it.^ 

“What is it, little brother.^” Samson inquired at 
last, for the boy had walked all the way back to 
the hut without a word; and, when he had heard, 
“Beat him with his own tricks!” was the only 
advice he would offer. 

All at once, just at bedtime, a plan burst into 
Roland’s head, and he went to sleep chuckling. 

The next day when he sauntered into the orchard 
he seemed to have forgotten all about the arrow, 
and, on the pretense of picking olives, he swung 
himself up into the tree where the water bottle hung. 
In a flash he had loosened it and laid it level and 
concealed between two branches. ' 

“There are still some olives here,” he called; 
“they’re high up, but Rasheed can get them if I 
help him.” 

“I don’t need you,” Rasheed returned ungra¬ 
ciously; but in a moment he saw he was wrong, 
for the bough in question was so high from the 
ground that it would have to be bent down to him. 

“Catch the end of it from below,” Roland told 
him, “while I stand on it.” 

Slowly the branches which hid the water skin 



A BOY OF THE LOST CRUSADE 


77 


curved groundward, and Rasheed, standing on tip¬ 
toe, with his arms stretched high to catch them, got 
a sudden deluge of cold water in his face, down his 
neck, in his ears, his eyes, his mouth. 

In that first choking, spluttering moment Roland 
had leaped to the ground and was upon him. Over 
they both crashed, full length, Roland on top, 
master of the situation. 

“Where is the arrowhe demanded. 

“Let me up! Let me up!’’ begged Rasheed, 
struggling desperately. 

Roland seized his head by its thick black hair and 
thumped the ground with it. “When you tell,” he 
said between thumps. 

And Rasheed, beaten at his own game, told: “In 
that tree over there.” 

There, to be sure, it was, high up in the hollow 
trunk of an old gnarled olive where it would have 
been safe for a hundred years — and always after¬ 
ward the boys were stanch friends! 

At last the olives were all gathered, and one day 
Roland found every one getting ready to go home. 
“To the little villages among the hills,” Samson 
explained, “that we passed on the way up from 
Jaffa. And there,” he added, “the women will 
pickle part of the olive crop, and the rest of it will 
go into a vat where a stone wheel will press the oil 
out of the pulp.” 

So it was olives that yielded the golden-green oil, 
as savory in food as it was useful in Samson’s 


78 


A BOY OF THE LOST CRUSADE 


earthen lamp! More than that they gave, too, 
Roland found, when he and Samson went to the 
nearest village for their winter’s supply of oil, and 
he saw him fill a sack with the waste seeds left by 
the oil press. 

“That rubbish, Samson.^” he cried. “What can 
you do with it.^” 

“You shall see to-night, little brother,” Samson 
promised, as he shouldered the sack; and when they 
had got home and the sheep were safe in the fold, 
he brought out a small brazier that stood on five 
legs, and in it made a fire of the olive stones. In a 
few minutes the mass was aglow, each seed a tiny 
red coal, with such a heat that Roland spread his 
hands out to shield his face. 

“So you see,” said the shepherd, “the olives give 
us food and light, and the seeds keep us warm!” 

But long before all this happened, Roland and 
Samson had met the Chevalier as they had agreed. 
They left the hut before dawn, and, as they walked 
along in the cool starlight, Roland wondered what 
news there would be of his father. He had not 
been found, that was certain, or the Chevalier 
would have brought word at once to the hut; and 
if there had been a battle which, for Robert Arnot, 
as for many another Crusader, had been the last — 
well, even for that he would be ready, the boy said 
to himself. But whatever was to come, to one 
thing he would hold fast: to be worthy of his name, 
which bade him go on in the face of any odds. 


A BOY OF THE LOST CRUSADE 


79 


Samson, with a quick guess at Roland’s thoughts, 
began to divert him by making him repeat the 
Arabic he had learned, names of people, the num¬ 
bers told off on his fingers, short sentences. And, 
before they knew it, the last faint stars had faded 
into the blue and rose of dawn, and Samson was 
saying, “Look!” For there under an oak, smiling 
out at them from its shadows, was the big Cheva¬ 
lier; and, if Roland started toward him any sooner 
than he had swung off his horse to meet the boy’s 
rush, no one could have told it! 

There was a rapid fire of questions and answers, 
and half a dozen messages from Father Gaspard; 
then de Vaubois began, a little hesitatingly, “Ro¬ 
land, lad —” 

“I know,” Roland interrupted; ‘‘y^^ haven’t 
found my father!” 

“Just that, but no worse than that, thank God! 
How did you know.^” 

“Because you’d have told me the first thing, 
or he’d have come here himself — as he will some 
day,” the boy supplied confidently. 

“As he will some day,” de Vaubois repeated; 
“and don’t forget, lad, that no news is fair 
news! ” 

“But, Chevalier, nothing from the Children’s 
Crusade.^” 

“Nothing — not the breath of a rumor.” 

“Where can they be.^” persisted Roland. 

De Vaubois shrugged his shoulders helplessly: 



80 


A BOY OF THE LOST CRUSADE 


*‘You shall have the first word that comes; that’s 
the best I can promise.” 

The sun was showing a thin bright edge, too high 
already for a lone Crusader in a country that was 
held by Saracens, the Chevalier reminded Samson 
laughingly, and he must be gone. He would send 
a message to the hut when to meet him again. 
And, next time. Father Gaspard should come, 
too, to hear for himself Roland’s Arabic which, 
de Vaubois declared, he was learning at such a 
rate that presently he would act as interpreter for 
the Crusaders! 

And then he was off to the coast and the sea, 
while Samson and Roland turned eastward to the 
threshing floors and the olive orchards of the bright 
Shephelah. 


CHAPTER SIX 


WISH,” Roland said one day, ‘‘that Father Gas- 
pard and the Chevalier could come up here to the 
hut, instead of sending us word to meet them.” 

“They can, sometimes,” Samson assured him, 
“but just now there are too many Saracens about 
the Shephelah.” 

Roland was all excitement. “How do you know? 
Have you seen them?” 

“Oh, yes, almost every day; T\\ tell you the next 
time a band of them is in sight.” 

Roland could hardly believe his ears: these 
fiends, who had turned all Christendom topsy¬ 
turvy, to be so near, and Samson apparently not to 
care! 

“Aren’t you afraid of them?” he ventured 
finally. 

Samson laughed. “Afraid! Of the Saracens that 
I’ve seen and known all my life? They’re only men, 
except that they can sit a horse and handle a sword 
better than most. Besides, we have nothing against 
each other — it’s the Saleebiyin with whom they’re 
at outs.” 

The very next day he pointed to a hill half a mile 
or more to the north along whose crest a body of 
horsemen rode at a furious pace. Outlined against 
the sky, their long cloaks streaming out behind 


82 


A BOY OF THE LOST CRUSADE 


them, they looked like dark clouds that raced 
before the wind. 

‘‘Saracens,” he explained. 

“What are they doingWhere are they going 
Roland inquired breathlessly. 

“They’re making sure no Frangi are about, or 
perhaps they are preparing for battle.” 

But if there was a battle, there was no sign of it 
on the Shephelah, and, except for fleeting glimpses 
of Saracen horsemen, one would hardly have known 
there was a war. Samson, of his own accord, never 
talked of it, for, as Roland soon found, it was the 
care of the sheep that filled the shepherd’s thoughts. 
If they had been children he could hardly have 
been more tender with them. Every moment of 
the day — and Roland would have said of the night 
as well — his mind and body watched for their 
needs and their comfort. 

When they started out^in the morning Samson 
usually walked at the head of the flock, but, if they 
lagged a little, after a long day afield, he would go 
back and urge them gently forward, his long staff 
held out to bring the stragglers into line; and let a 
lamb stumble ever so slightly over a rough bit and 
Samson had it up on his arm till the way was 
smooth again. 

Yet, with all his strength and skill, he could 
hardly have tended the flock so carefully without 
Abou Kbeer’s help. If Samson led, he brought up 
the rear, but, if Samson stayed behind, Abou, to 



A BOY OF THE LOST CRUSADE 


83 


the fore, would bring his forces through the narrow¬ 
est gully in perfect order. Just let some unwary 
sheep try to crowd past the big ram, and on the 
instant he got such a reckoning with the powerful 
head and the formidable horn as would last him 
his'lifetime! Up and down the Shephelah Abou’s 
cleverness and sagacity were a by-word, and, when 
all was said, he was second only to his master at 
managing a flock. 

To Roland The prettiest part of the care of the 
sheep was the calls by which the shepherds guided 
their flocks. Sometimes they used their reed pipes 
and again their voices, but each had his own em¬ 
phasis or intonation that made his flock know its 
master’s calls from all others. 

“Come!” Samson would cry, “a shady spot 
for you.” Or, “Good pasture here,” his pipe 
would trill; and again, “To the fold, my children, 
to the fold!” And, like so many docile children, 
the sheep would come or go as he told them. 

Sometimes at the watering-troughs he found 
other shepherds ahead of him. Without the slight¬ 
est confusion his sheep would gather about him, 
and, as the other bands finished drinking and 
moved off, he would lead his own to the troughs. 
If there was not room for all of them at the same 
time, he would hold out his long crook and give 
quick, short orders: “To the right, now!” “You 
to the left, to the left, mindl” And presently the 
sheep, passing to one side or the other of the staff. 


84 


A BOY OF THE LOST CRUSADE 


were divided, half of them with Samson at the 
troughs, the others waiting their turn with Roland 
and Abou at their head. 

When the day’s business of grazing had begun, 
and the sheep had spread out over some sunny 
hillside or quiet valley, Abou gave himself up to 
full enjoyment. For the time he forgot that he was 
the leader and frisked and played like the youngest 
of the flock. 

It occurred to Roland one day to run along on 
all fours beside him. Abou thought the boy was 
playing some new game, and only eyed him curiously 
and pushed him gently over. Finally Roland made 
him understand that they were to run together. At 
first his muscles ached from the new position, and 
he lagged far behind, but in a surprisingly short 
time he could walk on his hands and feet at a fairly 
good pace. ‘‘Playing sheep,” he called it; and, as 
he trotted along beside the ram, he looked, from a 
distance at least, the part he took. 

Samson was delighted. He wished he could bend 
his back and legs to the new game; but he urged 
Roland to practice every day until he could keep 
up with Abou or even beat him at a run. 

“The day you can do that,” he declared, “I’ll 
give you a pair of slings.” 

Roland was enthusiastic at once: “Do you think 
I can hit a mark the way Rasheed did?” 

“Of course, in time; and you shall begin to learn 
to-day.” 


A BOY OF THE LOST CRUSADE 


85 


That would be something worth telling to Father 
Gaspard and the Chevalier, Roland said to him¬ 
self; and the very next day would bring him the 
chanee, for to-morrow Samson and he were to meet 
them. He hardly dared to hope for news of his 
father, but of the Children Crusaders there would 
surely be word, and he fell to thinking of them and 
of how very soon, now, they would take Jerusalem. 
Just where was it, he wondered, this city that the 
Crusaders wanted so much; then aloud, “Where 
is Jerusalem, Samson.^” he demanded. 

Before he replied, the shepherd rose to his feet, 
and it struck Roland that his manner became, all 
at once, austere, reverent. 

“There.” He pointed to the east where the land, 
steep and high, cut the sky in a hard blue line. 
“There, only a few hours away.” 

^ “A few hours away.^ Why, one can get there 
quickly!” 

“Yes; only the path is very steep and rough.” 

In his fancy Roland saw the long procession of 
Holy Children making its triumphant way along 
up the heights to the Holy City, and he began to 
tell Samson as well as he could of the thousands 
of French children who had left their fathers and 
mothers to accomplish the great mission. 

Samson listened in silence, but, when the boy had 
finished, he said, very quietly, “Jerusalem is my 
city, the city of my people.” 

“ Your people, Samson? Who are they?” 


86 


A BOY OF THE LOST CRUSADE 

“The Jews.” 

Roland remembered now that he had heard him 
called “II Yahoodi,” without thinking what the 
name meant. 

“But where are your people.^” 

Samson threw out his arms in a sorrowful gesture 
that seemed to sweep from the farthest eastern 
heights to the shimmering line of western horizon. 

“What do you mean.^ Don’t you know.^” per¬ 
sisted the boy. 

“They are gone! Scattered!” 

“Won’t they come back.?” Roland inquired 
anxiously. 

But Samson, his eyes on the distant eastern 
heights, seemed not to hear him. In his face there 
was the strangest mixture of mournfulness and of 
hope. 

“Some day when you understand more,” he 
said at last, “you shall hear more.” Then, ^t the 
boy’s puzzled look, the smile in his eyes came back, 
and he added, “I’ll tell you, when the time comes, 
little brother.” 

It was a bewildering country, Roland thought 
to himself: Jerusalem, the city of Samson’s people, 
yet the prize for which the Crusaders struggled, 
while the Saracens actually possessed it! For the 
first time there crept into his mind a suspicion that 
Samson didn’t believe that the Children’s Crusade 
could take Jerusalem! Worse still, a shadow of 
doubt clouded his own confidence. Then with 


A BOY OF THE LOST CRUSADE 


87 


sudden relief he remembered that to-morrow he 
would see Father Gaspard and the Chevalier — 
they would set things straight again I 

But the next day there were so many questions 
to ask and to answer, so much to hear of Father 
Gaspard’s visits to the camps, and to tell of Sam¬ 
son and Abou Kbeer, that, at first, Roland forgot 
to speak of what had weighed so heavily on his 
spirits. There was still nothing to say of his father. 
“Though,” Father Gaspard explained, “we haven’t 
yet been able to reach all the Crusaders to inquire 
for Robert Arnot.” 

“Haven’t you found any one that knows him, 
any of his comrades.^” Roland asked a little un¬ 
steadily. 

“Not one, boy,” admitted de Vaubois, “but 
that isn’t so much of a wonder, for our camps are 
scattered, and distances aren’t quickly covered.” 

“It’s going to take time and patience, my child, 
more than we thought,” Father Gaspard inter¬ 
posed, “but every one of us keeps his eyes and ears 
open for news of Robert Arnot. Of that you may 
be sure.” 

Samson had stood quietly by all this time, but 
now he spoke to de Vaubois: “You have no word 
of the father — I can tell from your faces and 
voices; then let the child stay with me. Don’t take 
him away!” he begged. 

“How is it, lad.?” asked the Chevalier. “Will 
you come with us, or stay here?” 


88 


A BOY OF THE LOST CRUSADE 


‘‘Here/’ Roland replied with decision, “till my 
father comes. Samson,” he appealed to the shep¬ 
herd, “do you want me? Am I a trouble to you?” 

“A trouble!” laughed Samson. “A trouble! As 
much as the sun is to the earth or rain to a thirsty 
land! Why” — he turned to Father Gaspard and 
the Chevalier — “the boy is the very apple of my 
eye! From the moment I saw him I wanted him 
for my own!” 

“And I want to stay with Samson,” Roland put 
in eagerly; then, with a sudden recollection of their 
talk about Jerusalem, he added, “until the Chil¬ 
dren’s Crusade comes.” 

“We hear nothing of them,” Father Gaspard 
said gravely. “I myself feel certain that some 
calamity has come to them, though, it may be, as 
some think, that they have stopped somewhere on 
the way, or even that, for some reason, they have 
turned back to France.” 

“But when they do come, are you sure that they 
will take Jerusalem from the Saracens?” The boy’s 
face was as anxious as his voice. 

To his dismay, no one answered. ,The tall Cru¬ 
sader turned his face away; Father Gaspard looked 
troubled, cleared his throat once or twice as if to 
speak, and ended by saying nothing. 

“Well, lad,” de Vaubois said at last with an at¬ 
tempt at cheerfulness, “who can tell until we have 
seen them try?” 

So here was doubt, too, in the mind of the sol- 



A BOY OF THE LOST CRUSADE 


89 


dier and of the priest, as well as in the shepherd’s, 
for all they had tried to conceal it. Why didn’t 
they have faith in the Children’s Crusade, the boy 
wondered, with a cold fear at his heart Why had 
the priests urged it so fervently in France.^ They 
had been sure enough then! 

“Come, along, little brother,” said Samson, 
when the two men had ridden away, “the Saracens 
won’t catch us, but the sun will”; and even as he 
spoke the first yellow rays shot over the eastern 
hills. 

It seemed to Roland as they swung along to¬ 
gether that he had never before seen Samson in 
such high spirits. Even his own gloom grew less 
heavy in the light of the smiling eyes. 

“Samson,” he said, pressing up to him, “are you 
glad because I’m going to stay with you?” 

Yes, that was it, the shepherd declared happily. 
“What in the world would Abou and I do without 
you, little brother?” 

At mention of Abou, Roland had a vision of the 
big clever ram with his impudent, knowing ways, 
of the sunny hills and the sheep scattered over 
them like so many gray-white clouds! Oh, but it 
was good to be going back to it all! 

“Samson,” he said eagerly, “I can almost keep 
up with Abou now.” 

“And before long you’ll be slinging stones into 
the center of our target like any Syrian boy,” Sam¬ 
son laughed. 


90 A BOY OF THE LOST CRUSADE 

He stopped all at once and took hold of Roland’s 
sleeve. 

“You wouldn’t mind wearing our Syrian clothes, 
would you.^ Your own are wearing out and when 
the winter rains come you’ll be cold. I’ll tell you 
what we’ll do, little brother,” he went on, “we’ll turn 
off here and go home by way of the village where 
Rasheed lives. His mother will make some clothes 
for you. She’s especially good at weaving abbas. 
How would you like one to keep you warm, of 
black-and-white goat’s hair like this one of mine.^” 

And before many weeks Roland, in a blue cotton 
garment that was bound round him by a broad 
girdle, with a warm abba over it, looked, for all the 
world, like a little Syrian shepherd lad. 

“You remind me,” said Samson, “of myself 
when I was a boy and ran over these hills as you 
do!” 

“These hills.^” Roland echoed. “Did you live 
here when you were a boy.^” 

“Where else.^” laughingly. “Little brother, this 
is my country, these are my hills” — he stretched 
out his arms in a wide embrace — “even as they 
belonged to the man for whom my mother named 
me!” 

Roland glanced around quickly: “Does he live 
here, too.^” 

“I sometimes think he does, for all the hundreds 
of years ago that he roamed the Shephelah as you 
and I do to-day!” 



A BOY OF THE LOST CRUSADE 


91 


“Hundreds of years ago! What do you mean?” 

Samson became serious: “I’ll make a bargain 
with you,” he said finally. “I’ll tell you about this 
Samson of long ago when you know enough of our 
language to understand all of my story!” 

And Roland sprang to the challenge with such a 
will that Samson declared he even dreamed aloud 
in Arabic. 

“I’m not going to speak it as the Frangi do,” 
he assured Samson, “but like a Syrian!” 

One night he sat by the shepherd, counting by 
fives to a hundred, when all at once they heard a 
rasping sound outside, as of metal drawn over 
stone. The next minute Samson had the door 
open, and a man, wrapped in black from head to 
foot, stepped into the hut. 

“Welcome, and a thousand welcomes!” cried 
Samson. “Where have you been so long?” 

The man turned so that the light from the tiny 
wick flickered across his face. Roland, watching 
him curiously, drew a startled breath. Somewhere 
he had seen him before! It was the eyes! They 
made him think somehow of black rain clouds shot 
with lightning. What was there so familiar about 
them? he asked himself. 

“Where have I been?” the stranger was saying. 
“From north to south, from sunset to sunrise!” 
He stretched out his arms as if he were tired, and 
flung back his black silk abba. Roland caught the 
gleam of a scabbard among the folds, and it came 


92 


A BOY OF THE LOST CRUSADE 


into the boy’s mind that the man himself was like 
a sword. Every motion of his body made one think 
of something swift, sharp, unerringly sure, like a 
keen knife edge or a sword blade or an arrow flying - 
true to its aim. 

“It’s cold to-night,” Samson said. “Sit down 
here, Khaleel.” And he pushed the man toward the 
brazier with an affectionate little gesture. 

They must be old friends, reflected the boy, very 
old friends, indeed. 

“I wanted to see this little Frangi that every one 
talks of, on the Shephelah!” Khaleel said unex¬ 
pectedly, and he turned his gaze full on Roland. 

The boy stirred uneasily. Did he imagine it, or 
were those luminous eyes challenging him to re¬ 
collect where he had seen them before? 

“I’m not only a Frangi,” he retorted, a little 
nettled, “I’m a Saleebi!” 

Instantly the teasing expression vanished from 
the keen, dark face, and the eyes turned winning 
as a sunny day. 

“Frangi or Saleebi, you are a man-child from 
the garden of Allah!” He reached out a hand, and 
grasped Roland’s bright hair. “Look, Samson,” 
he went on, “like the desert sand when the sun 
first sets it afire!” 

i Roland, meanwhile, was wholly engrossed by the 
scabbard that hung at Khaleel’s side and glittered 
with every move of his body. Involuntarily the 
boy’s hand stole tow^ard the shining thing. 


A BOY OF THE LOST CRUSADE 


93 


“AhI” cried Khaleel, and he and Samson 
laughed. “A real man-child! Come, and I’ll show 
you the kernel within the husk.” 

He drew out the sword and laid it aeross Roland’s, 
knees, a gleaming curve of blue steel along whose 
hilt ran a tracery of leaf and bud that blazed into 
the full bloom of flowers, made entirely of precious 
stones, crimson and blue and green. Why! Roland 
reflected, even his father’s sword was a rough thing 
compared with this, and almost reverently he put 
a finger to its edge. 

“Show the lad what you can do with it,” said 
Samson. 

Khaleel stood up and swung the sword twice 
around his head. Then came, in quick succession, 
several forward thrusts, as at an imaginary foe; 
a parry, when the blade, pointing down for a sec¬ 
ond of.time, bore the full force of the enemy; a blue 
streak upward, and an overhead eut; suddenly a 
swift downward drop and an inward swing that 
left the enemy to lunge helplessly forward; and 
now — a terrible shoulder-level stroke! Another! 
The streak of blue lightning came to rest and be¬ 
came once more a shining crescent in Khaleel’s 
hand. 

Roland drew a long breath; he had never im¬ 
agined anything as terrible as this sword play, nor 
as beautiful, and for the life of him he could hardly 
help a startled glance into the shadows where 
Kahleel had thrust. Samson caught the boy’s look 


94 


A BOY OF THE LOST CRUSADE 

and laughed, but Khaleel only slipped his blade 
into his sheath and reached for his abba. 

‘‘II Howa ^ is waiting,” he remarked to Samson. 

“II Howa!” Roland echoed. “How can the 
wind wait?” 

“Come and see, little Saleebi,’ Khaleel an¬ 
swered. 

“I go first,” said Samson, and he stepped out¬ 
side, stood there a moment as if he were listening, 
and then walked toward the sheepfold. Without 
a word, Khaleel followed, while Roland, close be¬ 
hind and agog with curiosity to discover what the 
mysterious II Howa might be, heard the soft thud 
of a hoof, and saw, all at once, a dark form loom 
out of the night. 

“A horse, Samson — isn’t it?” 

“Who comes rightly by his name — yes.” 

Even in the dark, one made out the slender, 
powerful legs and the spirited curves of the body. 

Roland’s hand went up to the long mane: “Why, 
it’s as soft — as soft — as my own hair!” he ex¬ 
claimed. 

“Why not?” laughed Khaleel. “Not a day of 
his life that every inch of his body hasn’t been 
brushed and cared for by my own hands. Feel!” — 
and he guided the boy’s hand along the glossy 
flanks and silky tail. He bent down to tighten the 
girths, then straightened up and threw his arms 
around II Howa’s neck, and for a moment the two 

^ The wind. 




HE HAD NEVER IMAGINED ANYTHING AS TERRIBLE AS 

THIS SWORD PLAY 





1 



A BOY OF THE LOST CRUSADE 


95 


stood motionless, cheek to cheek, the horse’s nose 
sunk in the man’s neck. 

“I should like to see him by daylight!” Roland 
said half enviously. 

“You shall,” Khaleel assured him, as he sprang 
into the saddle. “Sometime when you are out on 
the hills with the sheep,, we shall come.” 

That night Roland lay awake for a long time 
thinking of Khaleel and his bewildering sword, of 
the mysterious way he had appeared out of the 
night and then vanished into it. There was some¬ 
thing puzzling about it all, and, in spite of the frank, 
open ways of both men, he had a vague feeling that 
they were keeping something from him. 

And then, suddenly, there flashed into his mind 
the answer to the puzzle, an answer so startling that 
without knowing what he did he sprang out of bed, 
but so convincing that he knew it was right. He 
knew now why Khaleel had appeared so quietly, 
why Samson had guarded him so carefully when 
he had gone out-of-doors to II Howa; above all he 
knew why Khaleel carried that lightning-like 
sword and how it happened that he used it with 
such skill. 

“Samson!” — and before there was time for an 
answer he announced his discovery — “Samson, 
Khaleel is a Saracen!” 

There was a silence; Samson stirred a little in his 
coverings, then he got up and came to Roland: 
“Yes,” he said gravely, “Khaleel is a Saracen.” 


96 . A BOY OF THE LOST CRUSADE 


He hesitated a moment, then, in the same serious 
tone, “And such a dangerously wise one that the 
Saleebiyin have put a price on his life!” 

So that was why Samson had not told him who 
Khaleel was! A careless word to the Chevalier, 
now, or to Father Gaspard — 

“Samson” — the boy put out his hand im¬ 
pulsively and grasped the shepherd’s — “you 
needn’t be afraid of me,” he whispered, with a 
strange little feeling of loyalty to the Saracen that 
he could hardly have explained. 

After that Khaleel came several times at night, 
and once in the early morning, on purpose,;he de¬ 
clared,'to keep his promise that Roland should see 
II Howa by day. 

Then the winter rains set in and Samson said 
they would have no more visitors for a while, as 
neither Saracen nor Saleebi would put his horse to 
the muddy roads till the sun had dried them fit for 
travel. 

But, though the prediction proved true,'and nei¬ 
ther Khaleel nor Father Gaspard and the Cheva¬ 
lier showed themselves, Samson and Roland, left to 
themselves and the hills, never had time to be 
lonely. Good pasture must be found for the sheep, 
and between whiles there were a hundred things for 
Roland to learn about tending them. They were 
never afraid of him now, and, whenever Samson 
trusted him to lead, they would follow as if they had 
always known him. The sheep calls were the hard- 





A BOY OF THE LOST CRUSADE 97 

est task, but he would get them, Samson assured 
him. 

As for running beside Abou Kbeer, it had come 
to be almost as easy as walking upright; and at last 
there came a day when Samson, watching eagerly, 
saw the boy abreast of the ram, and, a moment 
later, ahead of him, unmistakably ahead, and gain¬ 
ing steadily! 

“Good!” he called, “I saw you! Abou Kbeer 
has his equal, little brother.” And he took from his 
girdle two slings and handed them to Roland, not 
plain ones of black and white, but woven with tiny 
figures of red and blue. “Now!” he said, “You 
must do as well by these as you have by Abou!” 

“I’ll get some good pebbles for them from a 
brook bed on the way home,” Roland said; but 
when he came to look, the stony course that had 
been so dry was a running stream. It would be 
higher to-morrow and there would be others like it 
in the ravines, Samson predicted, with his eyes on 
the lowering sky; and no sooner were the sheep 
safe in the fold than there was a long roll of thunder, 
followed by raindrops on the earth roof of the hut. 
All at once a faint crackle seemed to rise from the 
ground, then, with a long-drawn gasp, it soared 
upward and burst into deafening fury; and Roland, 
from the doorway, saw a jagged flame stream down 
the sky to the hills and leap from peak to peak, 
once, twice, three times! He drew in his breath 
sharply, and shrank back.. 


1 


98 A BOY OF THE LOST CRUSADE 

“That,” said Samson, “is the sword of Jehovah 
Himself!” 

Roland glanced up at him quickly. The shep¬ 
herd’s voice sounded as it had that day when he had 
spoken of Jerusalem. 

“Who is Jehovah.f^” inquired Roland a httle 
timidly. 

Samson made no reply at once; in fact, standing 
there with his arms folded across his breast, his face 
lifted to the sky, he seemed very far away. 

“Who is He?” Roland repeated. 

“The One and Only, the Maker of all,” Samson 
said at last; and Roland understood that Jehovah 
was God, of whom his mother had told him. 

He remembered, now that he thought of it, that 
she had used almost the same words, too: “He 
made everything,” she had said; “you, little Ro¬ 
land, and the earth and sky; even this,” and she 
had picked a tiny, insignificant flower from the 
grass. He wondered if, when Khaleel said, “Allah 
be praised,” he meant her God as well as Samson’s 
Jehovah. Could it be that Christian and Jew and 
Saracen had the same God, only called by a differ¬ 
ent name? He would ask Samson to-morrow! For 
Samson, as Roland was finding out, always under¬ 
stood what one was thinking about, and could ex¬ 
plain anything under the sun! 

But the next ‘ day brought something that 
crowded all but itself from the boy’s mind. 

Abou and he had started the flock out earlier 


A BOY OF THE LOST CRUSADE 


99 


tlian usual and were heading them for the next val¬ 
ley when they were startled by a sound of rushing 
water. What Samson had said that the Vain would 
make of the dry watercourses was already true, 
and now, he explained to Roland, they were violent 
torrents from which the sheep must be kept away 
lest they fall into them. So, with Abou in the lead, 
the flock was driven up a hillside and then to a 
stretch of high pasture that looked as safe as sheep 
or shepherd could wish. 

From here there was a view of the lower levels 
and of the streams that had formed almost over¬ 
night. 

“When we go home we’ll have to find a way 
around that valley,” Samson had just observed, 
when, without warning, and almost under their 
eyes, a slice of the upland dropped out of sight, 
and, along with it, a full-grown sheep. There was 
a rumble of sliding rocks and earth, then a startled 
bleat, and one of the lambs had leaped after its 
vanishing mother. In less than a moment half a 
dozen more panic-stricken animals would have fol¬ 
lowed, but in that moment, Samson, at a bound, 
put himself between them and the brink of the new- 
made precipice. 

“Stand back!” he warned Roland, “I’m going 
after the two sheep. You must take care of the 
flock.” 

His voice was as soft as if he were soothing 
the flock, and so he really was, for he knew that 


100 A BOY OF THE LOST CRUSADE 

the instant he betrayed the danger that threatened, 
his control of them would be gone. Even now some 
of them stopped browsing and huddled together, 
surging toward him. Abou stood motionless, one 
forefoot raised, his great head lifted high. 

“Turn them in the opposite direction,” con¬ 
tinued the even tones, “there’s not a minute to 
lose. Put Abou Kbeer at their front and give the 
call to go home.” He flung off his abba and the 
rope he always carried, and began to pick his way 
over the freshly torn earth. 

Already Roland was obeying. He could feel his 
knees tremble, partly from excitement, but much 
more from fear that the sheep would refuse to 
follow him, and that, try as he would, he could 
hardly keep them from leaping after the shepherd 
and so to their death. But, taking his cue from 
Samson, he went along quietly, speaking to this 
animal, and patting that one’s head. Then, as 
best he could, he gave the call that meant “To the 
fold!” 

The sheep wavered a moment, grew calmer, and 
presently began to heed the familiar order. Roland 
ran up to Abou and laid hold of the rough horns. 
“Come along,.brother,” he urged. “Faster, Abou 
Kbeer, faster!” And Abou, who knew as well as 
any one that trouble was afoot and that he must 
shoulder his end of it, trotted forward at a smart 
pace, while Roland, back again at the rear of the 
sheep, drove them gently forward, and put all his 


A BOY OF THE LOST. CRUSADE 101 

heart into the call for “Home” and “The fold!” 

A little more and he had them over the brow of 
the slope at a safe distance from the landslide, and 
here, he said to himself, he could leave them with 
Abou, while he went back to help Samson. He 
flung his arms around the ram’s neck: “Stay by 
them, brother,” he whispered; “take good care 
till we come.” 

Back, now he raced to where Samson’s abba lay, 
and presently he was looking down the ragged gash 
that had gouged into the hillside. The first thing 
that he saw was the full-grown sheep, quite dead, 
and half buried by loose stones; then, in the lee of a 
great boulder, he made out Samson’s tall figure 
bending over an uprooted oak, while he carefully 
freed its branches from the earth. 

“Samson!” he called, “what are you doing?” 

Without stopping his work to look up, Samson 
said quietly, “The lamb is alive, but it’s penned 
in here fast.” And for the first time Roland saw, 
entangled and caged by the oak boughs, the lamb 
that had leaped after its mother. 

“I’ll come down and help!” — and he put a foot 
over the edge. 

“Stay where you are!” Samson told him, so 
sharply that he drew back, startled and confused. 
“Make the rope fast up there, and throw the other 
end to me.” 

A little back from where he stood, Roland found 
a good-sized rock, passed the rope twice around it. 


102 A BOY OF THE LOST CRUSADE 


knotted a pebble to the other end and tossed it into 
the shepherd’s hands. How slowly he worked! 
Why didn’t he wrench the lamb free at once and 
have done.^ And then, as the boy looked more 
closely, he suddenly saw the reason of the cautious 
movements and of the stern order to stay where 
he was: the boulder, in whose very shadow Samson 
stood, that seemed at first sight to be firm in its bed, 
was held in place only by the uptorn oak, a frail 
enough rampart that would never keep it, once 
started, from crushing everything that lay in its 
path! 

In this new light the lamb had scarcely a chance, 
and its master, Roland said to himself, would never 
leave it, even if — 

“Now,” Samson said, “I have enough of these 
limbs out of the way,” and he slipped the rope 
around the lamb and knotted it. The little creature 
sent up a frightened bleat. “Don’t cry,” he said 
caressingly, “You’re safe now!” 

Roland bit his lips hard. Had he imagined it or 
was there a breath of motion among the upturned 
roots? 

“You have the other end fast?” Samson spoke 
quickly, and Roland saw that his eyes were fixed 
on the rock. “Now, mind, lad,” the words came 
sharp as a whiplash, “don’t let go, no matter what 
happens.” 

In the next breath he had lifted the lamb clear 
of the tangled boughs and tossed it to one side, while 


A BOY OF THE LOST CRUSADE 103 


Roland, with the rope biting into his palms, heard 
an ominous rumble, saw the upturned tree bend 
and fall, and, in the same moment, saw Samson 
plunge down the slope with the boulder thundering 
at his heels. Then with a mighty twisting leap he 
swerved to one side, while the rock, gathering speed, 
hurtled past him to the bottom. 

Roland leaned over and drew the lamb up in his 
arms, just as Samson turned and flashed back a 
triumphant smile. 

“I’ll go around and meet you at the other end,” 
he shouted. And no sooner had Roland got the 
lamb over the hill and back to the browsing flock 
than Samson swung jubilantly up the slope toward 
them. 

“You saved the day, little brother!” he called 
out. “I never could have done it alone.” 

“Oh, Samson, I wasn’t anything! You did it 
all — you and Abou! Why, you were quick as 
lightning!” 

Samson leaned down to stroke the little creature 
that he had saved. “It was worth all the trouble,” 
he said tenderly; then his face sobered: “We were 
fortunate to lose only one; half of them might have 
gone if they had been near the poor creature that 
was carried down first.” 

“What made the hill drop away so?” 

“The heavy rains. The earth on that side of the 
rise was so soaked with water that it couldn’t hold 
any longer. If it had happened at the mouth of a 



104 


A BOY OF THE LOST CRUSADE 


cave, and we had been in there seeking shelter from 
a shower, our flock would have been without shep¬ 
herds to-day!” 

“Do caves fall in?” Roland inquired. 

“Not very often, but there’s no hope for any one 
who is caught in them when they do. I lost my 
father that way when I was younger than you. He 
had gone into one of them to dig for sand. My 
poor mother — I shall never forget her face when 
the men came to tell her.” 

Samson had flung himself down in the midst of 
his sheep, and Roland knew by the absent look in 
the dark eyes, half smiling and half sad, that they 
were gazing back across the years. 

“Tell me about it, Samson,” he urged, “when you 
were a boy, and about your father and mother.” 

“Yes,” Samson agreed at once, “I will. I’d like 
you to know, little brother. 

“After my father died,” he began, “I stayed a 
great deal with my mother. I remember how she 
took my face between her hands, and told me that as 
death had come suddenly to my father so it might 
to her — who could tell? — and that, in whatever 
days were left to us together, she wished to teach 
me as much as possible of our people, of Jehovah’s 
people. She always spoke of the Jews so. ‘And 
these things that I tell you,’ she would say, ‘you 
must ponder in your heart, little Samson.’ That 
was the word she used, ponder/^ 

Samson paused, with the far-away look in his 



A BOY OF THE LOST CRUSADE 105 


eyes, and Roland was very still, for he knew that 
the shepherd was uncovering a picture that was too 
precious to be often looked on. Moreover, his own 
heart was bursting with the memory of another 
mother, bright-haired and blue-eyed, who had held 
him to her not so long ago, even as the Jewish 
mother had held the little Samson. 

“My mother’s father,” Samson went on, “was 
a learned man and had taught her a great deal 
about the history of the Jews. You must know, 
little brother” — he spoke slowly, choosing his 
words with care — “that very, very long ago this 
country was given to our people by Jehovah, these 
hills around us, those heights over there where 
Jerusalem is, and still more besides; but stronger 
nations than we conquered us and then carried off 
most of us to their countries.” 

“But, Samson, why don’t your people come 
back here?” 

“Well, that’s just what I used to ask my mother, 
and she would say that no one could tell; but that, 
wherever they were, they were still Jehovah’s 
people, and their main business was to prove them¬ 
selves so by obeying Him. ‘And your part,’ she 
would tell me, ‘is to make the best of our great 
men’s lives come true in yours.’ 

“Now, our people,” Samson explained, “lived 
out of doors a great deal; they ploughed and planted 
and harvested, and tended sheep. Every boy and 
man of them could use a sling, and I suppose there 


106 A BOY OF THE LOST CRUSADE 

wasn’t a hill or a brook or a cave that they didn’t 
know. They were a hardy, rugged people, and my 
mother wanted above all things to have me like 
them. So she named me for the strongest one of 
them.” 

Roland looked up expectantly. Could it be that 
Samson was going to tell the story he had once 
promised him.f^ 

“I remember,” the shepherd continued, “that 
we were sitting on the roof of our house where we 
could watch the sunset when she told me about 
him, this lad, who had lived here on the Shephelah 
hundreds of years ago, and —” 

Roland could restrain himself not another 
moment: “Samson” — an eager hand on the shep¬ 
herd’s arm — “is this the story you promised me 
when I should know enough Arabic?” 

“The very one, little brother,” smiled Samson, 
and Roland settled back contentedly. 

“He was a fine, sturdy fellow, it seemed, always 
in the open, in and out among these fields and 
olive orchards and vineyards, playing games with 
his mates, running races, wrestling with them. And 
he was as sunny of heart as he was strong of limb, 
brimming over with fun and mischief. Whatever 
was on hand, young Samson could always manage 
to come out ahead, whether it was to jump highest 
or climb a tree fastest or sling a stone truest.” 

Just what we used to do, Rasheed and the other 
children and I,” Roland reflected aloud. 


A BOY OF THE LOST CRUSADE 107 


“Exactly/’ Samson assented, “for things are 
about the same now as they were in Samson’s time. 

“Now, on this plain yonder, between us and the 
sea, lived a tribe, called the Philistines, who were 
always quarreling with our people. Some of the 
Shephelah villages belonged to the Philistines and 
some to the Jews, and it was on these disputed 
hills of the Shephelah that, year in and year out, 
the two nations would fight, come to terms for a 
while, and fight again. 

“Samson could beat the Philistine boys as easily 
as he did the lads of his own nation, and this made 
our enemies hate us all the more. Nevertheless, 
Samson was always the champion, no matter what 
the test was, and as he grew older his feats at¬ 
tracted the notice of the Philistines, and then their 
jealousy and their hatred. 

“You may be sure he didn’t trouble himself to 
pacify them; he only laughed, and then he took to 
playing tricks on them. Once he caught a lot of 
foxes, tied bits of tow to their tails, set it on fire, 
and then turned them loose in the Philistines’ 
wheatfields. And of course that was the end of 
the wheat for that season! 

“Another time the Philistines discovered that 
Samson was in one of their cities, so they stationed 
guards at the outer gates to catch him on his way 
home. When everything was quiet for the night, 
young Samson made his way out to the gates. 
He found them locked, to be sure, their keepers 


108 A BOY OF THE LOST CRUSADE 


stretched out on the ground as comfortably asleep 
as if they had been in their own beds! And without 
so much as a by-your-leave he lifted the gates from 
their hinges and walked coolly off with them to the 
top of a hill where he left them for his enemies to 
find as they might! 

‘‘By this time the Philistines were furious. They 
began to suspect that there was a reason for his 
strength, and they set all sorts of traps to find out 
what it was. And their suspicions were right — it 
didn’t just happen that he was stronger than every 
one else. 

“ He was immensely amused at their stupid ways 
of discovering his secret, and first he would tell 
them one thing and then another. ‘ If you’ll bind 
me with new ropes,’ he said one day, ‘you’ll find I 
can’t break them.’ But, when they tried it, the 
impudent rascal just stretched out those powerful 
arms of his, and snap went the cords, and off 
walked young Samson laughing at his dupes. 

“ But at last, one day, he grew tired of being asked 
why he w^as so strong, and he told a Philistine 
woman the truth of the matter. It seemed that at 
his birth his father and mother had promised that 
he should never have his hair cut, and it was in 
that length of unshorn hair that his power lay. 
But they had vowed the great strength that they 
knew their boy was to have to the service of Jehovah 
and His people, while he always seemed to be think¬ 
ing how he could use it in tricking the Philistines 


A BOY OF THE LOST CRUSADE 109 


just for the glorious mischief of it, instead of in the 
service of his people’s God!” 

“Oh, but, Samson,” Roland broke in, “I like 
him for being so clever and so full of fun. I wish 
he were here this minute!” 

“So do I, little brother!” agreed the shepherd 
warmly. “The great, strong, happy fellow roaming 
over these hills, his hair floating out over his shoul¬ 
ders — yes, I wish he were here, too!” 

His face changed suddenly and a sorrowful ex¬ 
pression came into it. 

“When the Philistine woman had found out the 
secret of his uncut hair, she waited till he was asleep 
and then she had his head shaved close and gave 
him up to his enemies. It’s hard to tell you the 
rest, little brother,” he broke off, “it hurts to say 
it out loud.” 

“They didn’t — hill — him, Samson?” 

“If they only had! But they knew what was 
worse than death, those Philistines. They — they 
— put his eyes out — they bound him with bands 
and chains — ” 

“Samson! Not that to him?” Roland cried out 
in an anguish of protest. 

“There, little brother, there” — the shepherd 
might have been comforting a grieved child — 
“it’s over and done with, long, long ago, and Sam¬ 
son himself has rested in peace these hundreds of 
years. Yes,” he went on, “they bound him and 
took him to one of their cities and made him grind 


110 A BOY OF THE LOST CRUSADE 


in the prison house. But there came a day” — 
Samson’s voice took on a new deep note — “when 
all his humiliation was turned in the twinkling of 
an eye into triumph, terrible triumph. 

“The Philistines had a great gathering in one of 
their temples, and some one proposed that the man 
who had so often made them the butt of his jokes 
and the victims of his strength should be brought 
in before them all and publicly ridiculed. So 
Samson was led in and put between two of the 
temple pillars. As he stood there, he lifted up his 
whole soul to Jehovah and asked to have his 
strength back for just once more. And Jehovah 
heard him! Then Samson took hold of the pillar on 
each side of him and bent his whole body in one 
tremendous effort, and the temple with every one 
in it crashed down to death!” 

“I’m glad of it,” Roland cried hotly; “I’m glad 
they were killed, all of them! But, oh” — his voice 
was hardly audible — “I’m so sorry for him!” 

“Yet he had what he wanted most in that last 
moment of life! And as for that, little brother, I 
often think that the best part of him has never 
died, in all these hundreds of years. These hills and 
the sunshine and the winds are full of him!” 

Samson stretched out his arms and took a long 
breath. “It’s just as my mother said to me,;that I 
must make the best part of his life come true in 
mine. And it has come true, the happiness and 
freedom of the outdoors, and the strength!” 


A BOY OF THE LOST CRUSADE ill 


Roland had a sudden memory of the shepherd 
as he had leaped ahead of the rolling boulder. Who 
else, he wondered, could possibly have had the 
agile power to do such a thing.? “Tell me more 
about him!” he urged. 

“Not to-day,” Samson said. “You must do 
what my mother told me, ‘ponder these things in 
your heart,’ and another story now might put this 
one out of your head, little brother. 

“When I got to be perhaps fourteen or fifteen,” 
he went on, “I told my mother that I wanted to be 
a shepherd right here on the Shephelah. What in 
the world could be happier than to have a flock of 
sheep, all my own, and to roam the day long with 
them, year in and year out, over these hills that I 
loved.? And I liked the thought of taking care of 
them, of having them depend on me!” He looked 
affectionately at the peaceful animals browsing 
around him. 

Roland laughed. “They’re just like your chil¬ 
dren, aren’t they.?” 

“Yes; I like to find the best pasture for them 
and to see that they get good water to drink. And 
then to have them come at my call, and to carry 
the tiny lambs over the rough places — oh, there’s 
nothing like it! 

“Well, when my mother knew that I wanted to 
be a shepherd, she was so happy! I shall never for¬ 
get how her face lighted up! ‘You are following in 
the steps of your people’s great men,’ she said, ‘ for 


112 A BOY OF THE LOST CRUSADE 

our greatest and best king and some of our proph¬ 
ets and leaders were shepherds.’ And it seemed that 
our own mighty Jehovah had often been likened to 
a shepherd and we, His people, to His flock. 

“When we were talking all this over together, I 
said that I didn’t want to be like some of the Syrian 
shepherds with no real home, sleeping wherever 
they happened to be at night, sometimes in the 
open, sometimes in a cave. No, I wanted a place 
that I could call my own, and a fold, a safe stout 
fold for my sheep. What plans we used to make, 
she and I!” 

Samson looked off at the distant hills for some 
moments; then he said quietly: “But before any of 
them came true, she went away, quickly, as she had 
thought she might go. And yet,” with a quick 
smile, “I’ve always felt that she was with me!” 

.In an instant Roland’s face lighted. “I know 
what you mean! I’ve often thought that about 
my mother, that she was here in the sunshine and 
the blue sky.” 

“ I’m sure of it, little brother,” Samson agreed 
warmly, “sure of it. So it seemed the most natural 
thing in the world to go on with the plans we had 
made together, and right away I began to build 
my hut. Rasheed’s father helped me, and so did 
some of the men from the village. When we came 
to the fold, they thought I took too much pains 
with it. ‘Why, you’re more particular with it than 
you are with your own shelter,’ they said. But I 


A BOY OF THE LOST CRUSADE 113 


knew that sometimes — not very often, to be sure 
— lions and leopards make their way over onto the 
Shephelah.” 

Roland looked up, a little startled: ‘‘Make their 
way over from where?” 

“Oh, I suppose from the desert, or the Ghor,^ 
east of Jerusalem. However, that happens very 
seldom; but there are always jackals about, so I 
made the walls of the fold high, and then, for 
greater safety, I put thorn bushes along the top. 
Finally, I roofed part of the enclosure so that my 
flock could be dry and warm when it rained. Then 
I began to buy my sheep, and by the time I was 
twenty-one I had as many as I have now.” 

“How did you think of Abou Kbeer’s name?” 
Roland inquired. 

“Oh, it wasn’t I, but Khaleel, who gave it to 
him.” 

“Did you know Khaleel then?^^ 

Samson laughed at the boy’s astonishment. 
“And long before! When we both were mere lads, 
I used to see him riding about here, even when the 
Frangi held the Shephelah. He has always dared 
to do anything or go anywhere; and now he has a 
boy just like that — Saleem!” 

“Oh! I would like to see him! How old is he?” 

Samson reflected. “You’re twelve — Saleem 
must be two or three years older than that. I’ve 
never seen him,” he added ,“but I’ve heard that he 

^ The gorge of the Jordan River. 



114 A BOY OF THE LOST CRUSADE 


looks just like his father, and rides like him — like 
the wind! But look at the sun,” he broke off sud¬ 
denly, with a glance at the bright western horizon, 
“it’s time we were getting home. Come along, 
Abou!” 

Roland sprang up, caught the ram around the 
neck, and shook him back and forth. “Old rascal,” 
he cried affectionately, “what would we have done 
without you to-day, or, for that matter, any day? 
Come, brother,” he dropped on his hands and feet, 
“let’s go sheep fashion.” And off they started 
side by side, the ram trotting ahead for a few paces 
and then hurrying to catch up when Roland took 
the lead. 

Samson, from behind, cheered them on, and 
clapped his hands as he did when he was especially 
pleased and amused. 

“Doesn’t it tire you to turn into a sheep,” he 
asked — “your back and legs?” 

“Not a bit! Why, I could go that way all day, 
I believe!” 

“Khaleel should see you do it,” Samson de¬ 
clared, “he’d laugh for an hour! We must manage 
it some day.” 


CHAPTER SEVEN 


The winter rains were fast giving way before the 
spring, and the muddy roads were drying in the 
sunshine. The Saracen bands began to scout along 
the hills again, and sometimes Roland caught a 
glimpse of armored figures that told him his people 
had ventured into the enemy’s country. 

A great deal went on in his head, these days, 
about the Crusades. When he first came to Pales¬ 
tine, he had taken it as a matter of course that the 
Franks would soon regain what they had lost, but, 
now that he knew Khaleel, he began to suspect 
it would not be so easy a matter. 

“Do the Saleebi hold so much less of Palestine 
than they used to.^” he asked Samson. 

“ Why, of course, little brother, didn’t you know 
it? All they have now is the coast of Syria. The 
Saracens are masters of the rest of the land, and it’s 
they who own the great stone castles that the 
Saleebiyin built all up and down the country.” 

“Castles! Have the Saleebiyin really built cas¬ 
tles here?” 

“All over Syria,” Samson replied. “I’ve seen 
one of them myself, the one at Banias — they say 
that’s the largest of them all. Then there’s Kaukab- 
il-howa, ^ away up above the rest of the world, 

^ Star-of-the-Wind. 


116 


A BOY OF THE LOST CRUSADE 


where you can look down on the Jordan or up at 
Hermon, and see everything east and west. That’s 
the castle that held out against the Saracens a year 
and a half after all the others surrendered to them.” 

Roland was dismayed. He didn’t know that 
matters were as bad as all this; and that Samson 
should speak of the Crusaders’ losses so indiffer¬ 
ently nettled him. He even felt a little resentment 
against Khaleel himself. 

“Why is it so.^^” he demanded impatiently. 
“Why do the Crusaders let the Saracens drive 
them out?” 

“Well, little brother,” Samson said, sensing the 
boy’s hurt pride, “it’s my belief that this country 
isn’t good for the Frangi. Everything here is 
strange to them; the climate for one thing, it saps 
their energy. But the Saracens are at home here; 
they know how to turn everything to their advan¬ 
tage; yet, if they were fighting in your country, be¬ 
yond the sea, it would be the other way around.” 

Roland brightened. There was a grain of com¬ 
fort in this explanation. 

“And there are some splendid Saleebiyin,” 
Samson continued, “as brave as any of the Sara¬ 
cens. There was one, now, who was the talk of all 
Syria, and we still tell stories about his daring deeds 
up in Acre, and right here around Jaffa.” 

“Who was he? What was his name?” The boy 
was eager enough now. 

“His real name I couldn’t say, but he was known 


A BOY OF THE LOST CRUSADE 117 

as the Lion Heart. He was as formidable as his 
name and he outwitted the Saracens again and 
again; but at night,” Samson smiled, “ after he had 
fought with them all day, he and Salah-ed-din ^ 
would lay aside their swords —” 

“Who was Salah-ed-din?” Roland interrupted. 

Samson looked at him in astonishment. “You 
haven’t heard of him, the greatest Saracen of all.^^ 
He’s been dead now a good many years, but his 
name and his memory will never die. But, as I 
was telling you,” he resumed, “at night, when the 
fighting was over, the two leaders, the Saleebi and 
the Saracen, would forget war and exchange visits 
in their tents.” 

“And what became of the brave Saleebi?” 

“People said he went back to his own land across 
the sea” — Samson nodded toward the west — 
“and, not long afterward, Salah-ed-din died.” 

“If only the Lion Heart had stayed,” Roland 
reflected regretfully, “we might have had Palestine 
now.” 

Samson volunteered no reply to this, and Roland 
sat staring into space, his imagination kindling 
with the thought of those brave days when the 
Crusaders had ridden victoriously up and down the 
land, and their scarlet crosses had gleamed fear¬ 
lessly everywhere. 

But it was to the castles that his thoughts came 
back, fascinated. Those massive structures planted, 

^ Saladin: literally, the Worthiness of the Faith. 


118 A BOY OF THE LOST CRUSADE 

like bits of France, all over Syria! A bold thought 
leaped suddenly to his mind: he would like to see 
them! Yes, even though they no longer flew the 
emblem of the Holy Wars. 

‘‘Samson,” he demanded, “couldn’t I see the 

castles?” 

Samson considered. “I don’t know why you 
shouldn’t,” he said slowly; then all at once his eyes 
lighted: “I’ll tell you what! Some day we’ll make 
a trip to one of them, you and I, little brother; 
would you like that?” 

For some time Roland’s fancy was busy with 
castles and battles, until one day he happened on 
something that was more engrossing than either the 
one or the other. 

He was scrambling down a low cliff overhung 
with bush and brambles, when all at once he felt 
the mass of growth give under his feet. He let him¬ 
self down a little farther, groping all the time for a 
foothold on the rock that he was sure lay behind 
the thicket, but it only yielded the more under his 
weight, and sank slowly back and in! In another 
minute he had parted the tangle and found himself 
peering into a small opening in the hillside. It was 
the mouth of a cave, so perfectly covered that one 
might pass it every day and never dream of its ex¬ 
istence. 

What a glorious place to hide in or to play rob¬ 
ber ! He crept farther in. It was much larger than 
he had thought from the small, low entrance, and 


A BOY OF THE LOST CRUSADE 119 


the sides rose high enough for any one to stand 
easily upright. One could be comfortable here for 
weeks, if one only had food enough! 

Through the leafy screen he looked out over the 
hills and the plain. Why, he could see everything 
that happened or any one that approached for 
miles off while all the time no one would dream of 
his presence. The very thing! Here he could play 
gloriously at war, this his castle, and he its Crusader 
master! Here he would lie in wait for imaginary 
Saracens, watch their movements, and plan his at¬ 
tacks accordingly! 

Just then he heard Samson call him. This was 
his chance! He would experiment a little! 

“Roland,” cried the shepherd again, “where 
are you.^” 

“\\Tiere are you?^' mocked the boy. “I’m here, 
can’t you see me?” 

At this moment Samson came into view, only a 
few feet from the cave. His face had a puzzled ex¬ 
pression. 

“Samson!” the boy shouted. Samson started 
violently and looked all around. “Shut your eyes” 
— with a burst of laughter — “and when you open 
them I’ll be standing by you!” 

Samson did as he was told, and in another minute 
Roland had crept out from the bramble and was at 
his side. 

“You scamp!” cried the shepherd. “Now I 
know where you were! In a cave, weren’t you?” 


120 A BOY OF THE LOST CRUSADE 


‘‘Almost at your elbow,” and Samson was made 
to peer in at the dark opening. “Do you know, 
Samson, I could see ever so far, without being seen. 
Wouldn’t it make a secret lookout, though! ” 

“Depend upon it,” the shepherd assured him, 
“that’s exactly what it has been many and many 
a time for Crusaders, and Saracens, too. Not only 
for them, either,” he reflected. “ My mother told me 
that these caves of the Shephelah have often been 
refuges for men who were hunted and persecuted 
for one reason or another, long before the Salee- 
biyin came here. I’ve seen some that have been 
dug out so as to make good-sized rooms, and even 
connected by passages that led back into the hill¬ 
sides themselves. Oh, yes, men lived there — and 
died, I suppose — poor hunted creatures! For 
that matter,” he ended, “my people often used 
caves for burying their dead.” 

Roland was fascinated with this story of men 
who had lived in caves, who had hidden them¬ 
selves even as he had done, and, even as he, had 
looked out over hill and plain to watch for their 
pursuers. Only they, poor souls, had been so 
terribly in earnest! 

“How did they get their food, do you suppose, 
Samson?” 

“Oh, they waited their chance to go out, and a 
good many of them, my mother told me, disguised 
themselves in the skins of beasts.” 

A light broke over Roland’s face: “They must 



A BOY OF THE LOST CRUSADE 121 


have walked on all fours as I do when I play 
sheep!” 

“Of course they must have,” Samson rejoined. 
“ I wonder that I never thought of it when I’ve seen 
you running alongside of Abou Kbeer!” 

“ Why couldn’t I have a sheepskin to wear when 
I play sheep?” cried the boy. “I believe I could 
make Khaleel think I really was one — or any one 
else that came past and didn’t know what I was 
doing!” 

Samson was instantly as interested as Roland 
himself. 

“I’m going to sell two or three of the flock, pres¬ 
ently, and I’ll flay one of them myself; then we’ll 
be sure of a good pelt.” He threw back his head 
suddenly and laughed: “Nothing like being a boy, 
is there, little brother? Let’s see, now,” he con¬ 
tinued, “I’ll sew the skin up, and leave an opening 
through which you can slip in and then fasten.” 

“I can’t wait, Samson! When do you think it’ll 
be ready?” 

“Well, the flaying won’t take long, but then we 
must dry it properly so it will be pliable and soft.” 

“Think of the first time the Chevalier sees a 
sheep running along behind you and wonders where 
I am!” 

But when Roland next saw the Chevalier he was 
far from running sheep fashion or any other way. 

One morning at the very end of the winter rains 
he woke up, hot and listless. 


122 A BOY OF THE LOST CRUSADE 


Samson studied him anxiously. “We’ll stay 
near home to-day,” he decided; “the sheep can find 
enough to eat near by.” 

“I’m not sick,” the boy protested, but as the 
day wore on he grew more and more quiet and his 
face more fiushed. “It seems as if I could drink 
all the water on the Shephelah,” he said, after he 
had emptied the water skin that Samson had 
brought along, “and do you know, Samson, I keep 
thinking about snow. Somehow I can’t get it out 
of my mind — just to plunge my head into it. But 
you don’t have it here in Syria, do you.^” 

“Oh, yes, on the mountains; and sometimes I’ve 
seen the ground around Jerusalem quite white with 
it. And now,” Samson announced briskly, “we’re 
going home.” 

“Now.^ And the sun still so high?” 

“We’re going to cool that hot head of yours —- 
you’ll never guess what with,” laughed Samson. 
“Come along, little brother!” 

But for all his apparent good spirits he kept a 
watchful eye on the boy’s listless face and lagging 
steps, and, just as they reached the hill that lay 
between them and the hut, he swung him up in his 
arms. 

“I can walk, Samson! Besides, I’m too heavy.” 

“Tell that to Abou!” Samson laughed. “I’ve 
carried him, and he out-weighs you.” And with¬ 
out slackening his pace he strode up the slope. 

The sheep straggled along behind, but for once 


A BOY OF THE LOST CRUSADE ns 

he paid no attention to them, and went straight on 
to the hut. He laid the boy gently down on the 
sheepskins: “Now, for that hot head!” 

Roland stretched himself out and closed his eyes. 
It was good, oh, so good, to be at last in the hut, at 
last on the soft fleeces ^ It seemed as if he could lie 
there forever. 

Presently he felt something cool and moist on 
his forehead. He opened his eyes to And Samson 
bending over him. “What is it?” the boy asked. 

“You’ll never guess,” declared Samson, “so I 
might as well tell you — it’s leben!” ^ 

“Not the leben that we eat?” 

“The leben that we eat,” the shepherd assured 
him; “there’s nothing like it for a fever.” He un¬ 
covered Roland’s chest and laid over it a cloth 
spread with the white curd. “My mother cured 
me with it when I was sick once or twice.” 

In a few minutes Roland had dropped into a 
restless doze that was made up of confused dreams. 

It seemed a long while afterward that something 
made him open his eyes. In the flickering light of 
the oil lamp he made out Khaleel and Samson at 
his side. Khaleel leaned forward at once and took 
the two hot hands in his strong, cool grasp. 

“Man-child from the garden of Allah,” he said, 
though his voice sounded very far away, “we’re 
going to get something to make you better at 
once.” 


‘ The fermented milk of Syria. 




124 A BOY OF THE LOST CRUSADE 

He got up directly, and went outside, and once 
more Roland floated off into troubled sleep. 

All at once he was conscious of Samson’s voice, 
low, but quite distinct: “Perfect,” he was saying; 
“not a thing amiss. They’ll never suspect!” 

What in the world did he mean? Who would 
never suspect what? Roland half turned his head 
to see whom Samson was speaking with, and 
straightway felt his heart bound into his throat; 
for there, in the uncertain play of light and shadow, 
stood a misshapen bowed old man, his head doubled 
on his chest, brown, wrinkled, blear-eyed — the 
peddler, unmistakably the ancient peddler! The 
next instant he had vanished through the door¬ 
way. 

Roland stirred impatiently: another of those 
feverish dreams! When would they stop teasing 
him? That old peddler, now! He’d almost forgot¬ 
ten him and his mysterious disappearance after the 
ride up from Jaffa, and the unaccountable glance of 
amusement that had passed between him and Sam¬ 
son, when for a moment the dim eyes had flashed 
with vigor and youth. 

Presently there swam before him a vision of 
leben, cool and thirst-quenching. 

“Samson,” he whispered, “couldn’t I have a 
drink of leben?” 

“The best thing you could ask for,” Samson 
told him, while he held a bowl of it to his lips. “ And 
now, little brother, you’ll sleep.” 


A BOY OF THE LOST CRUSADE 125 


Roland settled down contentedly; then he hap¬ 
pened to remember the peddler. 

“ Oh, Samson, I mustn’t forget to tell you — I 
dreamed the old peddler was here, and that you 
were talking to him — ” He stopped as Samson’s 
face flashed into sudden laughter, and eyed him 
suspiciously: *'Was he here, or did I dream it?” 

“I wonder now!” bantered Samson, and with¬ 
out another word he went out of doors, and Roland 
fell at last into sound sleep. 

When he woke the gray of dawn was stealing 
into the hut. The fever was gone, and the ache 
from his bones. He turned over, expecting to see 
Samson stretched out on his sheepskins, but, in¬ 
stead, there he was, fully dressed, and with him 
some one that, even in the half light, Roland recog¬ 
nized at the first glance. 

“Chevalier!” he cried. “You?” How had he 
got here, and where was Father Gaspard, the boy 
wanted to know in the same breath. 

“Steady, now, lad, one question at a time,” 
smiled the Crusader. “You aren’t well yet.” 

“But how did you get here?” Roland insisted. 

“ Well, an old man came into camp late last night, 
and told me that Samson wanted me to come to 
you. So we started at once, and such a race as the 
beggar led me — by Heaven, I never saw such 
riding! Why, the wind would have had a task to 
keep up with him.” 

Roland looked at Samson inquiringly: “Who 
was it that you sent?” 


126 A BOY OF THE LOST CRUSADE 


Samson shrugged his shoulders: ‘‘Just one of 
the men about here,” he said carelessly, “that I 
got to take my message.” 

“Couldn’t Father Gaspard come?” Roland 
asked. 

“Father Gaspard,” replied the Crusader, “is 
away, but he’ll be up here post-haste to see you as 
soon as he gets back to our camp and hears you’ve 
had a fit of fever.” 

As de Vaubois spoke, Roland studied his face. 
Somehow he was not quite his usual gay self. 
There was something constrained and guarded in 
his manner, as if he had a secret that he was afraid 
would be discovered. Could it be bad news of his 
father, Roland wondered, and at once he put the 
man to the test: “Is there word of my father, 
Chevalier?” 

“None that I know of,” the Crusader replied, 
and looked him so squarely in the eye that the boy 
knew he spoke the truth, “but we’re asking for him 
everywhere. And, now, lad,” dropping into his 
old tone of easy banter, “ tell me what you’ve been 
doing with yourself, for I must have an account of 
you to render to Father Gaspard the moment he 
gets back.” 

Roland laughed. “Don’t let him know that I’ve 
been sick; after all, what’s the use? But tell him 
that I’m learning something new every day. I can 
use a sling, and I can run like a sheep — you should 
just seel Oh, but, Chevalier,” the boy interrupted 



A BOY OF THE LOST CRUSADE 127 


himself, ^‘best of all is the cave that I’ve found, 
so hidden that you’d never dream where it is, and 
I play it’s a Crusader castle and that I’m its lord.” 

‘‘Not another word, little brother!” Samson 
remonstrated. “At this rate we’ll have that fever 
back in no time.” 

“Just one more thing, Chevalier! Samson says 
there was once a great Crusader here who did all 
sorts of wonderful things; he robbed a caravan 
once, and he beat the Saracens again and again, 
but at night he’d be friends with Saladin and visit 
him in his tent. Did you ever hear of him?” 

“Ah,” smiled the man, “who hasn’t.^ Listen, 
Roland, he was no less a person than Richard the 
Lion Heart of England! Yes,” he shook his head 
regretfully, “those were fine brave times. But the 
tide may yet turn for us — who can tell? Mean¬ 
while,” he got up briskly, “as long as you’re mend¬ 
ing, and I can assure Father Gaspard on that score. 
I’ll be off. Mind you’re on your feet the next time 
I come so you can show me that cave of yours!” 
And he was out of the door. 

Now that he was alone, Roland suddenly realized 
that he felt very tired and weak and quite ready 
to be still. He could hear Samson and the Crusader 
talking in low tones, outside. Then, above the hum 
of their voices, de Vaubois’s rose distinctly: “When 
he’s well enough to know, send for us.” There was 
an assent from Samson, and then, almost at once, the 
quick beat of hoofs as the Chevalier galloped away. 


128 A BOY OF THE LOST CRUSADE 


“‘When he’s well enough to know,”’ Roland 
repeated uneasily to himself. To know what? 
They were keeping something from him! His sus¬ 
picions had been right, after all. De Vaubois knew 
something that he wished to conceal. And it was 
only the uncomfortable consciousness that he had 
overheard what was not intended for his ears that 
kept Roland time and again, that day, from asking 
Samson what the Crusader’s words meant. Over 
and over he pondered them, “When he’s well 
enough to know, send for us,” until out of sheer 
weariness his eyes closed in spite of himself. 

When he waked he knew by the way the light 
slanted into the hut that it was afternoon. “Why, 
Samson,” he called, “it’s late!” 

“Yes, you almost missed seeing a visitor who’s 
brought you a present. See!” 

“I promised you something that would make 
you better,” said Khaleel’s voice from the door¬ 
way. 

“Khaleel!” cried the boy. “You, again?” He 
hesitated a moment; then, ^^Were you here in the 
night, or did I dream it?” 

“I myself was here, man-child, and no sooner 
here than I must be gone. But I told you I’d get 
you something to make you better, and here it is.” 
Khaleel laid a bundle down beside the boy and 
took off the heavy cloth wrappings. There, pure 
and white and cold, gleamed the snow for which 
Roland had longed! 


A BOY OF THE LOST CRUSADE 129 


“Oh! Khaleel!” He plunged a hand into it, took 
a delicious, dripping mouthful, and crunched it 
thirstily. Samson and Khaleel watched him de¬ 
lightedly. 

“Where did it come from?” he asked at last. 

“From the mountains north of us — II Howa 
and I got it for you.” 

“Khaleel!” Roland seized the man’s arm im¬ 
pulsively. “I love you, though you are a Saracen!” 

“Ah,” laughed Khaleel, “it’s worth every flake 
of snow to hear that! And when I come again,” he 
said, as he got up to go, “be sure that you’re up to 
meet me!” 

He had hardly reached the door when Roland 
called him back with a puzzled cry: “If you weren’t 
a dream, then the peddler wasn’t!” 

The Saracen faced about and* met the boy’s gaze 
squarely. Was there a smile lurking in the luminous 
black eyes? 

“He was here right after you were and you must 
have seen him,” the boy challenged; then, chang¬ 
ing his bold tone to a wheedling one, “Tell me, now, 
didn’t you?” 

“No,” protested Khaleel, and his eyes fairly 
danced, “/ didn’t see him — but Samson did!” 

Samson nodded. 

“Tell him!” exclaimed Khaleel impetuously. 
“Tell the child — he has all but guessed — when 

I ) I 

m gone! 

So, after all, there was a mystery about the old 


130 A BOY OF THE LOST CRUSADE 


peddler, and Roland, on edge with curiosity, could 
hardly wait for Samson to solve it. 

‘‘It’s quite a story,” Samson began, “but the 
kernel of the nut is this: Khaleel himself is the old 
peddler!” 

Khaleel ?For a moment Roland was speech¬ 
less; then, “But how can he make himself so old.^” 

“Well, he has ways of changing himself; some 
of them I know, and some of them only Khaleel 
himself knows. Listen, little brother,” Samson 
continued, “the peddler disguise is just one of 
many that he uses. Sometimes he’s a shepherd 
lad, sometimes a Bedawy ^ or a fellah,^ or even an 
old gypsy woman! And he’s so clever at it that 
often his own friends don’t recognize him!” 

“Why does he do it.^” 

“To keep the Saracens informed of all that goes 
on. In his disguises he can go anywhere and see and 
hear everything without being known; in fact, he’s 
called ‘The Eye and the Ear of the Saracens.’ And 
the name fits him,” Samson reflected, “for he rests 
neither day nor night. When he isn’t scouring the 
country up and down, he is planning battles and 
attacks and defenses.” 

Roland’s heart sank. No wonder the enemy was 
victorious, with such a mind at its head! No 
wonder that the Crusaders had set a price on the 
life of such a leader. He said as much to Samson. 

“But that doesn’t prevent him from going among 
^ Bedouin. ^ Peasant. 


A BOY OF THE LOST CRUSADE 131 


the Saleebiyin whenever he needs to find out what 
they’re doing,” Samson assured him. ‘‘You know, 
he was fairly jostling elbows with them the day you 
landed at Jaffa! He wanted to see what sort of a 
cargo the Frangi boat had brought.” 

“ And that was what you and he were laughing at, 
wasn’t it, that he should be in the midst of the Cru¬ 
saders without their knowing it! Do you know, 
Samson,” the boy went on quickly, “that I kept 
thinking of that look that you and Khaleel gave 
each other when you laughed! I couldn’t under¬ 
stand how the' peddler’s old eyes could grow so 
young all at once!” 

“I know, little brother; I could see from your 
face that you suspected something, and I told 
Khaleel so at the time. As for him,” Samson de¬ 
clared decisively, “he liked you from the moment 
he saw you; he’ll do anything for you.” 

Roland was silent for some moments; then, 
“How did he happen to come yesterday?” he in¬ 
quired. 

“I sent a message to him to Jerusalem by a 
shepherd lad who passed by here while you were 
asleep. I was so afraid he would be off, far away 
somewhere, but, by good fortune, his men found 
him quickly and he came straight here as soon as 
he got my word. ‘You stay with the boy,’ I told 
him, ‘while I go to Jaffa and tell his friends he’s 
ill.’ But nothing of the kind would Khaleel have: 
‘ You stay,’ he said, ‘ and Fll go, II Howa and I, and 


132 A BOY OF THE LOST CRUSADE 


we’ll bring the little lad’s friends back with us — 
that will please him.’ ” 

“I reminded him,” Samson continued, ^‘that 
he was tempting death, and I begged him not to 
go. But he just laughed and began to disguise him¬ 
self, and he was off before I could get my wits to¬ 
gether. Then, when he’d got the Chevalier here, 
he went straight on to get the snow that he knew 
you wanted.” 

“I love Khaleel!” the boy burst out, choking a 
little. “I love him — there’s nothing I wouldn’t 
do to prove it to him.” 

“ He believes that already, little brother,” Sam¬ 
son said heartily, “and now you must please him 
by getting well quickly.” 

Whether it was from Samson’s leben or Khaleel’s 
snow or the gladness of spring, it was a matter of 
only a few days before Roland had got back his 
strength and was out on the hills with the sheep. 
Sometimes he thought uneasily of the Chevalier’s 
last words, but, as nothing had come of them, he 
had begun to believe that nothing would, when, 
early one morning, before the sheep were out of the 
fold, Father Gaspard and De Vaubois appeared 
riding toward the hut. Instantly the words he had 
overheard shot ominously into Roland’s mind: 
“When he’s well enough to know, send us word to 
come!” He glanced at Samson. Ah! knew that 
the two men were bringing bad news, Roland could 
tell, by the look of distress in the dark eyes; and 


A BOY OF THE LOST CRUSADE 133 


as Father Gaspard rode nearer, the sight of his 
stricken face was the final proof that confirmed 
the boy’s suspicion of coming disaster. 

De Vaubois made a show of cheerfulness, but, 
without greeting him, Roland ran at once to the 
monk and looked anxiously at him: 

‘‘What is it, Father? Are you ill?” 

“ Not in body, child,” he said, dismounting heav¬ 
ily, and steadying himself on the boy’s shoulder. 

“Then is it that my father —” 

“No,” Father Gaspard interrupted, “nothing 
of that sort.” 

“But something has gone wrong,” Roland per¬ 
sisted. “I — I — heard the Chevalier tell Samson, 
the other day, to send for you when I was well 
enough to know. To know what, Father?” 

Instantly Father Gaspard was all tenderness and 
solicitude: “My poor child! I’d have told you 
sooner if I’d known you had this hidden away in 
your heart. Yes,” he went on sorrowfully, “some¬ 
thing has gone wrong, unspeakably wrong! Some 
weeks ago, Roland, rumors began to float in to 
our camp about the Children’s Crusade. Tell him, 
Chevalier,” he turned to the Crusader,“ how it came 
to your ears — you heard it before any of us.” 

“The news came up from Egypt,” de Vaubois 
explained, “by peddlers and travelers; nothing 
definite at first, just vague reports that the children 
had been lost at sea in a fearful tempest near the 
Island of San Pietro.” 


134 A BOY OF THE LOST CRUSADE 


‘‘Lost? You mean drowned?’’ Roland demanded 
breathlessly. 

“Yes. Then we heard that some of the ships had 
escaped from the storm and made their way to the 
African coast, where the poor children on board 
them were sold in the market-places of Egypt into 
slavery!” 

“Sold!” Roland repeated in a bewildered way. 
“To whom?” 

“To men, who became their masters, who own 
them just as they own horses and camels.” Sorrow 
and anger struggled in Father Gaspard’s voice. 
“But even that isn’t the worst of it,” he said, half 
to himself. “How are we to tell the rest of it?” 

“If I could help it the boy should never hear it!” 
the Crusader brought out violently, and his eyes 
were so pitiless that Roland wondered how they 
could ever again be gay and kind. 

“The long and the short of it is,” he went on, 
“that some time ago a score or more of these chil¬ 
dren were brought up from Egypt by their masters 
into Palestine, and hurried through the country —• 
they must have passed within a few miles of us — 
across Jordan, and the eastern desert, to Bagdad.” 

There was a sound of incredulous amazement 
from Roland. Father Gaspard dropped his face 
into his hands, and the Chevalier turned his head 
away. Samson’s compassionate eyes never left the 
boy. 

“At Bagdad,” de Vaubois resumed in a choked 


A BOY OF THE LOST CRUSADE 135 

voice, “some of the poor innocents were sold again; 
and, on the others, the Saracens tried to force their 
religion. Heaven knows what tortures they used, 
but in spite of everything the children stood firm 
in their faith; and in the end” — the choked 
voice halted and sank low — “ most of them were 
drowned or put to death.” 

In the silence that followed, Roland looked un- 
comprehendingly from one to another, and then, 
as the ghastly truth made its way into his stunned 
mind, he flung himself on the ground in an anguish 
of weeping. 

The children he had marched with in the long 
procession that had wound through France! Why, 
some of them were no older than himself, and some 
were still younger; and yet, alone and unprotected, 
their tender bodies had gone down in the pitiless 
storm, or, even worse, had been herded like cattle 
in strange slave markets with no father and mother 
to stand between them and merciless men; no one 
to save them from the slavery that stretched, hard 
and loveless, through the rest of their lives. 

But it was when he thought of that valiant little 
handful, hurried through the very country they 
had left their homes to save, past the sacred places 
they had dreamed of rescuing, only to meet torture 
and death, that it seemed as if his heart would 
burst. They must have cried out in their suffering 
— how could they have helped it.^ And mingled 
with that agonized sound, he seemed to hear still 


136 A BOY OF THE LOST CRUSADE 

another, the desolate weeping of the fathers and 
mothers in France who waited in vain for their 
children to come home. 

can’t bear it!” he cried, strangled with sobs. 
*‘It can’t be so — it mustn’t!” And he sprang up 
with a wild impulse to run somewhere, anywhere, 
to cool the fire in his head and his heart. 

All at once his eyes fell on Father Gaspard — 
Father Gaspard so broken in spirit, so bereft of 
hope, that suddenly out of his own desolation 
Roland felt something warm and tender leap to 
life, the throbbing instinct to fling himself to the 
load that was crushing someone that he loved. In 
a minute he was at the monk’s side, comforting him 
as he would a child. 

“Ah, Roland, lad,” Father Gaspard faltered, 
“you are still young; you may live to see victory, 
the Saracens conquered, Jerusalem won. But I, 
I am too old, I shall never enter the holy places. 
And now that our last hope in the Children Cru¬ 
saders is gone, I must die, knowing only defeat.” 

“Father,” Roland broke in, “the Children Cru¬ 
saders aren’t all gone — there’s one here! And there 
wouldn’t have been but for you! It was you who 
saved me. Father” — he sprang up in front of them 
all — “saved me to do a Crusader’s work!” 

“There’s downright good sense in that,” de 
Vaubois cried out warmly, “and a man’s valor in 
the boy’s words!” 

“Enough to put me to shame, faint heart that I 


A BOY OF THE LOST CRUSADE 137 


am!” Father Gaspard took him up; then to Roland, 
“ Child, you’ve found my courage and given it back 
to me, and strength to bear my part in our great 
cause. Heaven grant, lad” — he drew Roland 
down by him — ‘‘ that I may turn that strength 
in full measure to the quest that brought you here! ” 

Roland caught at this mention of his father to 
turn the tragic subject: Do you know how Samson 
says we shall find my father, Robert Arnot? We 
must tell every one about him, travelers, camel- 
drivers, shepherds, villagers; and they will pass our 
story on, by word of mouth, so that finally the 
whole country will hear of him.” 

While the Chevalier and the shepherd talked 
over this plan, Roland sat close by Father Gaspard 
and amused him with the liveliest accounts of Abou 
Kbeer and their antics together; of his learning to 
use a sling and stones; of his play in the cave that 
he had stumbled on, and a hundred other incidents 
as well. 

‘‘He mustn’t look lonely and sad again if I can 
help it,” thought the boy to himself, and he re¬ 
membered his own black time of despair when he 
would have died if it had not been for Father Gas- 
pard’s warmth of hope and comfort. So that, by 
the time the Chevalier gave the word to go, the 
monk was almost his old self, serene and cheerful, 
and, above all, hopeful. 

“Y^ou’ve put new life into me, Roland, lad, I’m 
young again!” he said, smiling down at the boy. 


138 A BOY OF THE LOST CRUSADE 


As soon as they had ridden out of hearing, 
Roland turned anxiously to the shepherd: “Do you 
think Khaleel had anything to do with those poor 
children that were murdered at Bagdad?” 

“Not one thing!” declared Samson solemnly. 
“Set your heart at rest. He never even knew of it 
until it was all over, so he assured me, when I told 
him the story that I had learned from the Chevalier 
the day you were ill. Those who took part in the 
crime concealed it from Khaleel because they 
knew he would never consent to it. If you had seen 
his grief and shame that such a thing should have 
been done by Saracens! Why,” Samson ended, 
“ Khaleel would have fallen on his own sword rather 
than let those innocents be victims of such hideous 
cruelty.” 

“ I’m so glad, Samson!” cried Roland, as if a load 
had been lifted from him. “I couldn’t have borne 
it to have him concerned in such a thing! Samson,” 
the boy’s face and voice became suddenly wistful, 
“the Chevalier told you about the Holy Children 
the day that I was ill, didn’t he? You didn’t know, 
but I overheard him ask you to send for him and 
Father Gaspard when I was better, and I was sure 
they had some bad news for me.” 

“Child, I’ve known it, all these days that you 
were getting back your strength, and the thought 
of what was before you has been like a knife at my 
heart.” 

That evening, when they had put the sheep in 


A BOY OF THE LOST CRUSADE 


139 


the fold, Roland found himself thinking again and 
again of Father Gaspard and of how like his own 
courageous self he had been as he rode away. And 
somehow the memory of the smiling face, comforted 
back from its misery to its old faith and courage, 
seemed like some caressing warmth that shielded 
the boy from the cold horror of the Children Cru¬ 
saders’ tragic fate. 


CHAPTER EIGHT 


One afternoon Samson and Roland were hurrying 
the sheep homeward. A straying ewe had delayed 
them, and now, long after their usual time, they 
began to climb the last hill, when suddenly a sound 
of men’s voices rang out on the stillness. They 
glanced hurriedly about, but could see no one until 
a sharp turn in the path brought into full view the 
valley below. There, in the lee of the hill, where 
they could look directly down on it, was an en¬ 
campment, evidently in full swing of preparation 
for the night. The peaks of tents showed white in 
the dusk, horses whinnied restlessly, and every¬ 
where men moved briskly about, men that even 
in the failing light Roland recognized instantly as 
Crusaders, far from their own coast camps, and in 
the enemy’s country, but Crusaders for all that. 

“ Saleebiyin! ” he whispered in his excitement. 
“Where can they have come from all at once?” 

“Saleebiyin,” Samson agreed, “and out of their 
own bounds!” 

“There’ll be a battle, Samson!” 

“Battle or not, it means something that we’ll 
hear from before many hours!” 

“Hark!” said Roland as the voices floated up to 
them from the camp; “I believe I can hear what 
they say!” 


A BOY OF THE LOST CRUSADE 141 


‘‘At which end will the sentries stand watch?” 
sang out some one in French. 

“Sentries? Folly!” in derisive tones. “All that 
needs guarding is the boy’s tent—” The words 
trailed off into laughter; then, “ If Ae were to escape, 
there’d be all Christendom to pay!” 

“Never fear, he’ll not escape,” was the instant 
retort, “and glad enough the infidels will be to get 
him back at any price, even though we make it 
Jerusalem!” 

The speakers must have moved away, for, listen 
as he might, Roland could catch not another 
word. 

“I couldn’t make out what they were at, Sam¬ 
son,” he said with a puzzled face. “Such a muddle! 
Not about a battle,” he went on, “but about some 
one that mustn’t escape from their camp, and for 
whom the ‘infidels’ will be glad to exchange 
Jerusalem!” 

“Infidels means the Saracens,” Samson answered 
thoughtfully. “Can it be that the Frangi have 
captured a Saracen and think to barter him for 
Jerusalem?” 

“If I went down to the camp now, I might find 
out what they’re here for,” Roland proposed. 

Samson laughed. “We’ll keep to our side of the 
hill, little brother; as it is, it will be dark before we 
can turn the sheep into the fold.” 

“Do you think there’ll be a battle?” persisted 
the boy. 


142 . A BOY OF THE LOST CRUSADE 


‘‘There will be something, and trouble for some 
one if I’m not mistaken.” 

“I’ll find out from them to-morrow/’ was Ro¬ 
land’s last word as he settled into drowsiness be¬ 
tween his sheepskin covers. 

It seemed a long time afterward that a silvery 
tinkle drifted across his sleep, a tinkle and a quick 
rasp, as of metal drawn over stone — Khaleel’s 
signal! For it was his way to announce himself 
at night by striking his knife on the doorway. 
Again the tinkle and the rasp 1 The boy was on his 
feet now and at the door, to find Samson before 
him, slipping back the bolt. Silently the tall figure 
that waited outside stepped in, and, as silently, 
the door closed. 

Something was the matter — Roland knew it 
before Khaleel spoke: 

“There is trouble, Samson, black trouble.” 

“Your trouble is ours,” Samson said quietly. 
“Tell us.” 

By the light of the tiny wick that floated in olive 
oil, Roland looked full into Khaleel’s face. The 
change that he saw startled him, and he instinc¬ 
tively moved nearer, as if to protect him — 
Khaleel, who had always sprung to his help! The 
Saracen drew the boy close to him. 

“ Saleem has been taken — captured by — the 
— Saleebiyin.” He brought the last word out 
roughly as if it were wrenched from him. 

Roland felt himself grow cold and hot, and a 


A BOY OF THE LOST CRUSADE 143 

glance of comprehension flashed between him and 
Samson, but Samson only asked quietly: 

How in Heaven’s name could such a thing have 
happened?” 

Khaleel struck his clenched fist on the wall. 
“That is what I’ve asked myself a thousand times,” 
he cried passionately. “How could it have hap¬ 
pened? That I should be the ridicule of the Sa- 
leebiyin is humiliation in itself; but even that is 
nothing — nothing, to the safety of the boy.” He 
made a visible effort to control himself, then, in 
his usual way, he said, “ Saleem was with my men 
whom I myself had sent out to reconnoiter while 
I went north. This morning they met me to tell me 
that he had been captured by the Saleebiyin two 
days ago.” 

“But how was it, Khaleel,” inquired Samson, 
“ that the lad was singled out of a group of his own 
people and carried off before their eyes?” 

“Not a man of them saw him taken! The fact 
is, that, as nothing unusual had happened and no 
Frangi had appeared, they all forgot caution and 
got somewhat separated. Suddenly, like a bolt out 
of the blue, one of them saw a party of Saleebiyin 
dash from behind a clump of trees hardly half a 
mile away, wheel almost at once, and ride furi¬ 
ously toward the coast. It all happened in a few 
moments, and my men never even saw Saleem 
captured; but of course the boy was in the midst 
of the Frangi when they rode off to the west.” 


144 A BOY OF THE LOST CRUSADE 


“Your party was watched,” remarked Samson. 

“Yes. And Saleem was picked because he was 
my son, and the price set on my capture includes 
him.” 

“Do you trust all your men?” asked Samson 
quickly. 

A look of intense pain and hurt pride clouded 
Khaleel’s face, and his mouth hardened into a line 
as thin and terrible as his sword edge. 

“My own men, yes,” he said, with a deliberate 
emphasis that Roland remembered and understood 
only months afterward. “They made no resist¬ 
ance,” he continued, with an effort, “lest the 
Saleebiyin, rather than surrender the boy, should 
kill him in cold blood.” 

“Kill him?” laughed Samson. “Not they!” 
He leaned forward and looked Khaleel confidently 
in the face: “What if I should tell you that only 
this hill lay between you and Saleem?” 

“This hill between me and Saleem?” the Saracen 
repeated, as if he questioned his own hearing and 
Samson’s reason. 

“There’s no doubt at all about it,” Roland broke 
in excitedly, and without a moment’s delay he told 
Khaleel of the camp he and Samson had seen that 
afternoon. “With my own ears I heard the Sa¬ 
leebiyin speak of the ^hoy^s tent’ and say they 
mustn’t let him escape. And who could that be 
but Saleem?” 

“But if they have him,” Khaleel said, “why do 


A BOY OF THE LOST CRUSADE 145 


they linger here? Why not flee to their own strong¬ 
hold with their prize?’’ 

“As I make it,” Samson replied slowly, “they 
dare to dally In the enemy’s bounds because they 
know you won’t strike while they have Saleem, 
and they’re waiting to see what proposals for ran¬ 
som you will make to them.” 

A quiver passed over Khaleel’s face, but he said 
nothing, and Samson continued: 

“The last thing the Saleebiyin will do is to harm 
Saleem; what would they gain by that? No” — 
he shook his head emphatically — “ they got him 
at a great risk, only — only, mark my word — to 
sell him back for an equivalent price!” 

A smothered cry broke from Khaleel, but Sam¬ 
son went on: “Jerusalem, say, to call it a bargain!” 

“A bargain, is it?” Khaleel burst out, his eyes 
black slits between narrowed lids. “For the Sa¬ 
leebiyin to choose their end of it? By Allah and 
His own Prophet, it will be I who dictate the terms; 
this” — he grasped his sword hilt — “II Howa 
and I!” 

“No!” Roland sprang up and struck the sword 
from him. “Not you!” and before Khaleel could 
speak, “/’m going to get Saleem away from the 
Saleebiyin, the sheep and I, if Samson will help us! ” 

The men looked at each other helplessly. What 
wild notion possessed the lad? But much too 
absorbed to notice them, he ran to the wall where 
his sheepskin hung and took it down. 


146 A BOY OF THE LOST CRUSADE 

A glimmer of understanding suddenly lighted 
Samson’s face. “ How will you go about it, little 
brother? ” 

And Roland, a good deal excited and very much 
in earnest, but perfectly clear as to what he wanted 
to do, told his plan. 

Disguised as a sheep, he would wander into the 
Crusader camp late at night as if he had strayed 
from the fold. Abou Kbeer must come, too. ‘‘I’ll 
go along slowly, like this,” he dropped on hands 
and feet, “and every once in a while I’ll stop and 
browse.” Here he pretended to nibble, took a few 
leisurely steps, and nibbled again. 

Samson and Khaleel burst out laughing. The 
boy had caught, to the life, the way of an amiably 
grazing sheep, and the motions of his head to one 
side and the other, as he pulled at imaginary tufts 
of grass, were irresistible. 

“It’s perfect mimicry,” cried Khaleel, “perfect! 
How do you do it? But” — he grew very grave —• 
“it’s too great a risk, lad; suppose you should be 
discovered. Why should you take such a chance 
for me?” 

“That’s just why I want to do it, because it is 
for you and for Saleem,” Roland declared affection¬ 
ately. “I haven’t forgotten the snow you brought 
when I was sick, nor how you went into the Saleebi 
camp for me! Besides,” he went on, “there isn’t 
as much risk as you think; if I should be found out, 
I can run. Samson will tell you that; and in the 


A BOY OF THE LOST CRUSADE 147 


dark the Saleebiyin never could see to follow me 
over the rough ground.” 

‘‘The boy can run like a gazelle,” Samson as¬ 
sented, ‘‘and every rock and gully of this region is 
familiar to him.” 

“As soon as I’ve found Saleem,” Roland con¬ 
tinued, “ Samson must drive some of the flock down 
into the camp, and somehow he must startle them 
into running, so that they’ll scatter everywhere 
and make as much noise and disorder as possible. 
While all that is going on. I’ll cut the ropes of 
Saleem’s tent so that he can escape from under it, 
and then, under cover of all the confusion, we’ll 
get away while Samson stays behind and gets the 
sheep together.” 

Samson laughed delightedly, but Khaleel still 
looked doubtful. 

“And you, Khaleel,” Roland ended, “must be 
waiting on your horse, between the camp and our 
hut, so that the moment you see us you can take 
Saleem and be off!” 

“Wait!” broke in Samson. “I can do better 
than run all the sheep at once onto the Saleebiyin: 
I’ll cut the flock in two up here at the fold and drive 
one part down behind Roland. Just as we reach 
the camp, I will scatter them in all directions among 
the tents. Meanwhile, Khaleel, you will start the 
rest along and run them down onto us in as mad a 
panic as you can goad them into!” 

“ But I have no knowledge of sheep, you know, 
Samson, and if they refused to be driven —” 


148 A BOY OF THE LOST CRUSADE 


“ No need for shepherd skill here, Khaleel,’’ Sam¬ 
son reassured him; “all you must do is to spur your 
horse on the flock and they will fly before you; and 
once they are within my reach, trust me! Then take 
up your post” — he considered for a second — 
“yes, in the shadow of the great boulder halfway 
up the hill, you remember, and wait for the boys.” 

“Our greatest difficulty,” Khaleel said thought¬ 
fully, “will be to get the sheep to the camp at the 
right moment, neither too early nor too late.” 

“Just so,” agreed Samson; “but if our plans go 
amiss we must resort to our wits, and, whatever 
happens, both boys can run, and Roland can find 
the big boulder with his eyes closed. As for me and 
the sheep, we shall raise such a dust and make such 
a noise that the Frangi will be thinking of any¬ 
thing but Saleem, and won’t miss him until he’s in 
the saddle and away!” 

“You were born a general!” declared Khaleel, 
laughing. “Now, how will you make sure where 
Saleem is,” he asked Roland, “and how is he to 
know you in your sheepskin?” 

“I’ve thought of that. Samson is to tell him! 
In the morning, we’ll take the sheep to pasture by 
way of the camp and while I talk to the soldiers 
we’ll find out in what tent Saleem is. By and by 
Samson must give a sheep call, and the Saleebiyin 
will be sure to want to hear another. In the calls, 
Samson —” 

“Ah!” Samson interrupted, almost as excited 


A BOY OF THE LOST CRUSADE 149 


as Roland, “in the sheep calls I am to tell Saleem 
our plan!” 

“Where does that fair head find such wisdom?” 
broke in Khaleel, moved out of his usual com¬ 
posure, but Samson, intent on the details of the 
plot, observed thoughtfully: 

“We must be sure that none of the Saleebiyin 
know enough Arabic to understand what I say.” 

“I can find out how much they know when we 
first go to the camp,” Roland said, “and while you 
call I can tell from their faces whether they suspect 
anything.” 

“And meanwhile I sit idle!” Khaleel moved 
uneasily. 

“You must take yourself off!” Samson de¬ 
clared. “We have work before us, and until it’s 
done your presence here is a danger. But to-mor¬ 
row at midnight—” He paused significantly. 
“Now,” he continued briskly, “let us be sure we 
understand each other.” He ran over the main 
points of their plan: “You will be here at midnight; 
the boy will start, while I follow with part of the 
fiock; at the first shout that I raise, you will drive 
the rest of the flock down toward us till you hear 
me cry Imshalla! Imshalla is the word, Khaleel. 
It will mean that all goes well, and that the boys 
are on the way to you. If, however, I call Ya 
hararriy^ as if I were unable to manage the sheep, 
you must remain concealed. You will know that 

‘ Oh, too bad. 


150 A BOY OF THE LOST CRUSADE 


something has gone amiss, but trust me to find 
some other means for Saleem’s —” 

“In that case,” Khaleel interrupted, “I myself 
will come down!” 

“No such thing!” Samson put in forcibly. “You 
must make no move, but hold yourself ready to fly 
like the wind, perhaps with Saleem, perhaps alone. 
I shall find a way to tell you what you are to do.” 

Khaleel agreed to this reluctantly. It was hard 
to stand by while Samson and Roland acted! 

“Remember, Samson,” he said grayely, “if it 
comes to a risk of your life or Roland’s —” 

“As if you hadn’t risked yours for me!” Roland 
broke in. 

“And wouldn’t again, a hundred times, for both 
of us!” Samson added. 

In a moment Khaleel’s arm was around the boy. 

“You are next to Saleem in my heart, man- 
child, know that always. And between us” — he 
looked affectionately at Samson — “gratitude is 
a meager word.” 

“Between us it has always been give and take 
Khaleel!” 

Samson and Roland stood in the doorway as the 
tall figure went off through the darkness, followed 
by II Howa, the horse as noiseless as the man. 
Presently the two forms melted into the shadows; 
a few moments of silence, and then the light, quick 
sounds of flying hoofs. 


CHAPTER NINE 


Early the next morning Samson and Roland led 
the sheep up the hill that lay between their hut 
and the Crusader camp. From the top they looked 
down on the tents that, in the first sunlight, were 
so many peaks of dazzling white. Several Cru¬ 
saders were sauntering about, and others were feed¬ 
ing the horses tethered near by. The temper of the 
camp was one of leisure sure of itself, and unafraid 
of raid or attack. 

‘‘They have the upper hand and they know it,” 
Samson observed after he had surveyed the valley 
from end to end. “Now,” he went on, “to find 
Saleem,” and^he began to head the sheep down the 
hill. The flock scattered to browse on the fresh 
herbage of the lower land, and the shepherd and the 
boy strolled easily along in their midst. 

“There he is!” exclaimed Samson in a whisper. 
“Don’t look just yet,” he warned. “Keep your 
eyes on the sheep. Now — the third tent from this 
end.” 

In the entrance of the tent Samson indicated 
sat a lad with arms folded and eyes staring som¬ 
berly into space; a lad whose every feature pro¬ 
claimed him Khaleel’s son, from the lithe body to 
the keen, thin face, and the daring poise of the head 
thrown back a little, as if in challenge. He seemed 


152 


A BOY OF THE LOST CRUSADE 


entirely oblivious to everything around him, the 
camp itself and the two soldiers who guarded him, 
the browsing sheep and their shepherds. 

“We must make some sort of excuse to go near 
him,” Roland said; “we might offer to sell a sheep 
to the Saleebiyin.” 

He had hardly got the words out when a Cru¬ 
sader came out of a near-by tent. Roland hailed 
him at once. 

The soldier looked up in surprise. “ How do you 
come by that French — and by that fair hair?” 
he demanded. 

Roland told his name frankly enough and ex¬ 
plained how he had come to Palestine in search of 
his father, Robert Arnot. 

“Robert Arnot!” the man repeated. “Aren’t 
they looking for him in all our camps?” 

“The very same,” Roland assented. 

The soldier glanced at Samson and the scatter¬ 
ing flock: “And meanwhile you’re here tending 
sheep?” 

“Do you want to buy one for roasting?” the boy 
asked, changing the subject abruptly. 

“Yes; have you one?” 

“I’ll ask.” Then, “Samson,” he called in Arabic, 
“come here! Have you a sheep for sale?” 

Samson cast his eyes over the flock and appeared 
to consider, while Roland, with a “Good Day” 
now to this Crusader and now to that, gradually 
edged his way near Saleem. 



A BOY OF THE LOST CRUSADE 153 


Meantime Samson had made his choice: “Here 
is one I can let them have.” 

He picked out a well-fed plump animal, twisted his 
fingers into its woolly neck and pushed it forward. 

By now Roland stood within a few feet of Sa- 
leem, but, apparently engrossed by the business in 
hand, had never so much as glanced his way. Then, 
as if the thought had just occurred to him, he asked 
the Crusaders if they wished the sheep killed and 
dressed. Before they could answer him, he turned 
and seemed to see Saleem for the first time. 

“Who is that? ” he demanded, staring hard at the 
boy. 

There was a roar of amusement from the by¬ 
standers, and Saleem flushed angrily, for he guessed 
that they were talking of him. 

“A rare bird that we snared the other day while 
we were hunting,” bantered one of the Crusaders. 

“No, but, really?” 

“Well, if you insist, a Saracen!” 

“But what do you want of him?” persisted Ro¬ 
land. 

“Oh, he’s a good exchange when we want to 
strike a bargain with his people.” 

“Just what Samson said,” Roland thought to 
himself. “They’re not going to harm him; he’s too 
useful.” 

The sheep, by now, had spread out along the 
edge of the camp and several had even strayed 
among the tents. Samson turned hastily and called 


154 A BOY OF THE LOST CRUSADE 


to the stragglers. Now, no European can hear the 
calls of the Syrian shepherd to his flock without 
being impressed by their blending of musical trills 
and guttural sounds. Roland knew this, and, as he 
had predicted to Khaleel, the Saleebiyin would be 
sure to want Samson to repeat them. 

‘‘Holy Saints!” laughed one Crusader. “Let’s 
look down his throat and see how he does that!” 

“What does he say?” asked another. “Can you 
understand him, boy?” 

Roland burst into laughter: “He’s calling the 
sheep together, now. There are other calls, too — 
he’ll give them for you,” with a nod to the shepherd. 

The great moment had come! Roland threw 
himself down on the ground, hands clasped under 
his head, one bare foot swinging idly in the air. 
From where he lay he could look full into Saleem’s 
face. Samson sat down with the tolerant expression 
of one who is going to amuse children, and, like 
children, a knot of Crusaders near him leaned for¬ 
ward expectantly. He repeated the call as he had 
just given it; then again, this time choosing his own 
phrases. Roland’s heart bounded into his throat 
as he distinguished the words, Listen, 0 'prisoner! 
Listen well!^^ He glanced toward Saleem. The 
dark eyes still stared stonily into space. With his 
thoughts far away, the boy had not even heard the 
warning that was meant for him only. The Cru¬ 
saders had not understood, either: that much was 
perfectly certain. 


A BOY OF THE LOST CRUSADE 155 


Samson now gave another call, the one that told 
the sheep of peril and brought them huddling 
around him. It began with several sharp, short 
cries, “Come! Come! Come!” Keeping the same 
rhythm, he substituted “Hark! Hark! Hark!” 
Then, with marked emphasis, and listen for 

thy life, 0 'prisoner! 

Ah! Saleem had heard! A flicker of the thick 
black lashes, a startled turn of the head toward the 
shepherd! 

“He mustn’t show that he hears!” thought Ro¬ 
land, for it was certain that, had the Crusaders’ 
eyes not been on Samson, they must have noticed 
their prisoner’s change of expression. 

But Samson had seen the danger, and instantly 
came his swift warning disguised in his cry to the 
sheep: ^^Listen^ but appear not to heed, or all will be 
lost!'' 

Ah, that was better! The Saracen lad took the 
cue and again the black eyes stared moodily into 
space, again the contemptuous indifference settled 
over the keen face. Roland breathed freely. ^ 

Samson paused a moment, then broke into the 
calls that the Syrian shepherd uses at shearing¬ 
time. Once more came the words for Saleem: 
^^At midnight, to-night, deliverance will come! Your 
tent will open. Escape from under it and follow, as the 
wind, your deliverer!" 

There! It was all said now, and not a Crusader 
had understood; Roland from his post of observa¬ 
tion could vouch for that. 


156 A BOY OF THE LOST CRUSADE 


Samson rose as if to go, but the Crusaders were 
still bent on amusement. “Give us another call,” 
they begged like children. “Tell him to sing for 
us, Roland.” 

It was just the chance Samson wanted to repeat 
;his instructions to make sure that Saleem should 
miss no detail, and, willing enough, he began one 
of the half-sad, half-gay melodies of Syria. 

At midnighU ot midnight^ hold thyself ready, A 
sheep will browse about thy terdy even the tent thou 
sittest in now. That sheepy that sheep, is thy de¬ 
liverer, The tent will fall. Escaper^ 

At this point Roland could not for the life of him 
help looking full at Saleem. In the fraction of time 
that it takes to raise and lower one’s eyelids, he saw 
the black eyes flash a signal of unmistakable under¬ 
standing to Samson, and knew, as Samson did, 
that nothing more need be said: Saleem was pre¬ 
pared ! 

Roland yawned and stretched, then sprang up. 

“I’m hungry,” he remarked to the Crusaders, 
“and thirsty, too.” And in Arabic, “Let’s go on to 
the spring, Samson, and eat our lunch there.” 

It was only when they had got the sheep well past 
the camp that they dared to mention the mornings’ 
work. 

“Everything went even better than we hoped,” 
Samson remarked at last. 

“Did you see Saleem’s face the first time he 
understood you, Samson? I was frightened!” 


A BOY OF THE LOST CRUSADE 157 


“Yes, I saw his face, and yours, too, little brother! 
I had to do something quickly, or between you two 
the Crusaders would have suspected us.’’ 

Late that afternoon, as they led the sheep back 
past the camp and up the hill, they saw Saleem 
where they had left him, in the doorway of the third 
tent from the end. Over a bed of live coals hung 
the sheep Samson had sold that morning, and 
around it stood several Crusaders. Every once in a 
while one of them turned the carcass with a long 
pointed stick. There would be a hiss of burning 
fat, a flare of smoky flame, and out over the camp, 
and even to Samson and Roland, floated the appe¬ 
tite-provoking odor of roasting meat. 

“It makes me hungry,” exclaimed Roland en¬ 
viously. 

Samson laughed. “A full stomach and swift legs 
never seek companionship,” he said. 

So it was only a bowl of leben and a loaf of wheat 
bread for supper that evening, and then, filled and 
satisfied, and just tired enough to sleep instantly, 
Roland lay down in his warm sheepskins. 

Samson, stretched out on the floor near by, kept 
an alert ear for the first sound of Khaleel’s ap¬ 
proach. After some hours he stepped outside the 
hut. There was no moon, fortunately for them, he 
thought to himself; the stars, brilliant in their set¬ 
ting of velvet sky, gave light enough. He listened 
carefully for several moments; knelt with his ear 
to the ground. Yes! A faint rhythm of hoofs that 


158 A BOY OF THE LOST CRUSADE 


beat stronger and stronger, and presently, out of 
the shadows, a dark blot that shaped itself into a 
horse and his rider. Even at night there was no 
mistaking either of them, the lithe, fearless animal 
and the slender, powerful figure of the man with the 
daring poise of the head. 

‘‘You’re in good time,” greeted Samson, “it’s 
scarcely midnight! ” 

Khaleel swung himself from the saddle and left 
the horse to crop at will. 

“Tell me,” whispered Khaleel, “have you seen 
Saleem? Is he safe?” 

“Perfectly,” Samson assured him, “and probably 
awake and waiting for us at this very moment!” 

“Allah be praised!” Khaleel stepped into the 
hut and knelt quietly down by Roland. 

The boy opened his eyes, looked at first unsee- 
ingly into the smiling face above him, then sat up 
wide awake. 

“IPs midnight,” he exclaimed, “time to go!” 
And he sprang up from his covers. 

Samson stood ready with the sheepskin. 

“There’s no need of your putting this on,” he 
said, “ until we have climbed the hill, but we’ll get 
Abou at once.” 

The old ram was not in the least disturbed to be 
routed out so late at night, but looked about him 
with his usual cool impudence, nuzzled Roland 
playfully, and then fell in between him and Samson 
as they set off. 


A BOY OF THE LOST CRUSADE 159 


“Remember,” Khaleel called softly, “that the 
three of us are here, II Howa, my sword, and I!” 

At the top of the hill Samson took a last look 
about. 

“There’s no one astir down there,” he concluded 
finally; then, as he helped Roland to fasten the 
sheepskin, “I’m willing to wager the entire flock 
that there’s not a Frangi of them who wouldn’t 
swear you were Abou’s brother! Now, off with 
you,” with an affectionate little push, “and, what¬ 
ever comes, remember you have your legs and 
your wits.” 

Down the slope went Roland and Abou while 
the boy began in good earnest to imitate the 
desultory way of a browsing sheep. Presently they 
had come to the tents, and still no sign of guard 
or sentry. But for all that, Roland knew that one 
person in that quiet camp was wide awake and 
waiting, listening, for him! 

Around to one side of the first tent he went, nib¬ 
bling and pulling at the grass; then on to the next 
one. Ah! He started back and just saved himself 
from stumbling over a soldier who lay asleep on 
the ground. To his dismay the man stirred uneas¬ 
ily and half roused himself. Roland’s heart gave 
a great leap and began to beat unpleasantly fast. 

“Only those silly sheep,” muttered the man 
drowsily, as he saw Roland and Abou. He felt 
about for a stone to throw at them, then, evidently 
overcome with sleep, he settled heavily back. 


160 A BOY OF THE LOST CRUSADE 


Now the third tent! In leisurely fashion Roland 
worked his way round to it. No one to guard it and 
the flap wide open! Nearer and nearer he edged, 
until at the very entrance he looked at last full into 
it. It was empty, absolutely empty! Even in the 
starlight he could see that it was so. 

A tumult of frightened thoughts raced through 
his mind. They had taken Saleem to another camp, 
miles away, perhaps. And Khaleel waiting for him 
a few yards up the hill! Samson would be here 
presently; even now a faint distant sound of many 
little hoofs reached him. They had started, were 
coming. What should he do, what? 

Like a flash of light in the dark there came to 
him, all at once, Samson’s last words: “Whatever 
happens, you have your wits.’" He steadied him¬ 
self; his brain cleared, began to work. To make 
sure whether Saleem was, or was not in camp, 
was the first business in hand, he decided quickly, 
and on he went, keeping close to Abou for reassur¬ 
ance. 

All at once a large dark object on the ground, a 
few yards beyond, startled the boy. He moved 
slowly toward it: two soldiers, fast asleep, stretched 
at length across the entrance of a tent, their swords 
beside them! 

“Ah!” thought Roland, “you have some one to 
guard in that tent or you wouldn’t be outside it 
with your swords!” 

If he could only go near enough to look inside! 


A BOY OF THE LOST CRUSADE 161 


Hark! From within came the sound of uneasy 
breathing as if some one were disturbed by bad 
dreams; then a word or two between long-drawn 
sighs. Those muttered words! What was there 
about them to make the boy stand stock still, to 
strain his ears to catch every sound of the troubled 
voice? Again the low tones, and this time no doubt 
about their message: ‘‘I wait — for — the sheep!” 

A Crusader camp and Crusader guards, but in 
their midst a Saracen lad who signaled for help in 
Arabic, Arabic that had become as familiar to 
Roland as his native French! 

Not a moment too soon had Saleem made him¬ 
self understood, for the sound of sheep’s hoofs grew 
louder every moment. 

And now the first cry from Samson: the signal 
for Khaleel to start his drive down the hill! 

Quietly Roland circled round to the rear of the 
tent, and slipped a rope from its p>eg; then the next 
one. The tent slackened perceptibly. 

On came the sheep, scattering here, there, every¬ 
where, Samson in their midst gesticulating wildly, 
apparently distracted. The camp was waking; 
startled exclamations and questions ran from end 
to end. Saleem’s guards rolled over heavily, leaped 
to their feet, looked about them; and in the second 
that they hesitated, dazed and confused, Roland 
lifted the loosened tent, and felt Saleem press 
through. 

“Follow close and run low,” Roland whispered. 


162 A BOY OF THE LOST CRUSADE 


and on the minute they were off, and into the very 
midst of the sheep. 

A shout from the guards—Saleem’s flight was dis¬ 
covered! No matter, Roland told himself; with the 
few moments’ start they two could reach Samson, 
and, once there, they would take cover under the 
confusion and disorder that raged around him. All 
at once, directly between him and his goal, a dozen 
soldiers dashed forward, shouting the alarm and 
making distracted search. Roland, in his sheep¬ 
skin, would get by them safely, but Saleem might 
attract their notice. Besides, lights now began to 
appear through the camp and soon there would be 
more. 

And then, from the most unexpected quarter 
and in the very nick of time, came help, in the 
shape of no other than the wily Abou himself! 
These humans who rushed about without rhyme 
or reason were just so many unruly sheep that 

needed to be subdued. He would teach them their 

% 

lesson! And, lowering his head, he charged furiously 
in among them. 

Down went one, sprawling over the ground, and 
on top of him another that Abou caught between 
the legs. 

“Curses on the horned demon!” grumbled one 
of the prostrate soldiers. “ Look out for him, you! ” 
he yelled as Abou made a dash for a third victim. 

The man raised his leg and made as if to bring 
his foot down on the ram’s head; but Abou, quick 


A BOY OF THE LOST CRUSADE 163 


as lightning, leaped up and in, met the blow in mid¬ 
air with a vicious toss of his seasoned horns, and 
sent him crashing heavily backward. 

“The creature’s mad! Get out of his way!” 
cried some one. 

The alarm spread like wildfire. Men tripped 
over each other to give the ram a clear track, and 
for the moment they forgot Saleem; while Roland, 
from his shelter among the sheep, and almost 
bursting with laughter, knew that in this moment 
lay his chance. 

“ Come, now, Saleem, close by me,” he whispered. 

They could hear Samson’s voice plainly, and 
even in the darkness Roland made out the tall 
figure as it ran here and there, brandishing the 
crook over the panic-stricken sheep. 

Straight in among the huddling, scattering, 
bleating animals came the two boys; and at that 
very moment, down the hill, goaded on by Khaleel, 
charged the rest of the flock. Into the camp they 
dashed, full tilt. The uproar and confusion re¬ 
doubled, the dust rose in clouds. It was glorious, 
Roland told himself! If only Saleem could keep 
his footing in this mass of frenzied woolly shapes, 
they would be out of danger and up the hill in no 
time. 

^ First, though, Samson must be informed of their 
escape so far. The difiiculty was to get to him, for 
he was everywhere at once, bounding now to one 
side, now to the other. 


164 A BOY OF THE LOST CRUSADE 


The Saracen lad was panting, but he kept 
steadily on his feet and still held his body low. 

“Don’t let the sheep knock you over,” whispered 
Roland, “and stop when I stop.” 

In another moment they were up to Samson. 
Twice Roland butted hard against him, even called 
him softly by name; and Samson, still shouting, 
gesticulating, waving his arms and staff, heard and 
understood. 

“Zm^AaZZa,” rang out his signal to Khaleel that 
all was well; and Khaleel, in the shadow of the 
great boulder, murmured, “Allah is great!” 

The shepherd now redoubled his efforts to cover 
the boys’ final escape. Even his practiced eyes 
could hardly distinguish them from the sheep, but 
he knew the direction they must take, and in that 
direction he sprang. In and about he circled, 
striking right and left with his crook, but, as Ro¬ 
land knew, never touching a single sheep! 

The camp itself boiled in frantic disorder. Their 
prize was gone! Men ran in and about the tents, in 
search of Saleem. Some even tried to break through 
the barricade of sheep and past Samson, but to get 
within a dozen feet of that fierce figure and its 
formidable staff was an unenviable business 1 

Bits of their talk fioated out to Roland: “He 
can’t be far away —” “ No, hidden among the rocks 
or bushes — we’ll get him as soon as it’s light.” 

Meanwhile Roland trotted briskly along, easy 
in his mind now, for Saleem was close behind him. 


A BOY OF THE LOST CRUSADE 165 


and the hill just beyond. And now, at last, they 
were on its rough slopes, with the thyme sweet 
under their hurrying feet! 

“Straighten up and take a rest!” Roland said 
to Saleem in a low voice, while he unfastened his 
sheepskin and stood up. The Saracen boy was a 
little taller than he, he noticed, and leaner, and 
about the head and shoulders there was the un¬ 
mistakable look of Khaleel. 

“I didn’t know who you were,” said Saleem as 
they went on, “ until I heard you speak both Frangi 
and Arabic; then I knew you were the Saleebi boy 
that my father has told me about. I wish I could 
run as you do, like a sheep!” he ended admiringly. 

“What made them change you to another tent? ” 
asked Roland. “ I looked for you where you sat this 
morning.” 

“Oh, they put me in a different one each night. 
I was afraid you wouldn’t find me,^ so I pretended 
to talk in my sleep! But I saw you and the ram 
with the uneven horns when you first came into the 
camp.” 

“Do you know where we are going?” 

Saleem shook his head, and Roland, without 
telling him, led the way straight up to the great 
boulder. The next minute Khaleel and II Howa had 
sprung from its shadow, and were beside the boys. 

There was a low cry from Saleem as the truth 
burst on him: “My father!” Then, with one swift 
motion, as if it were familiar to them both through 


166 A BOY OF THE LOST CRUSADE 


long practice, Khaleel bent down with outstretched 
hand and swung the boy up behind him. 

For a second Roland felt Khaleel’s hand on his 
head, heard him whisper, “My other son,” and, as 
he afterward told Samson, “they were gone like a 
black wind!” 

And now Samson himself was coming up the hill 
with his sheep marshaled about him like docile 
children; but not a word did he and Roland speak 
till they had barred the fold on the last woolly back. 
Then, “What should we have done without Abou, 
Samson?” Roland burst out — and the two rocked 
with laughter. 

“Why, I believe he could have managed the 
whole affair alone, the rascal!” Samson got out 
finally. “The last I saw of him he was ploughing 
along through those soldiers as if they were so much 
earth — and how they ran before him!” 

The next morning, while they were at their early 
breakfast, Roland had a sudden thought that sent 
the blood over him, hot and tingling. 

“Samson,” he said, in a startled voice, “I was 
working against the Crusaders all the time, against 
my own side! I never thought of it that way till 
now!” 

“Why did you do it? ” Samson asked him gravely 

“Because I would do anything for Khaleel with¬ 
out stopping to think that we were on different 
sides. And I’d do it all over again to-night for him! 
But I’ll tell you what,” as he sprang up, “I’m 



SWUNG THE BOY UP BESIDE HIM 


I 










A BOY OF THE LOST CRUSADE 167 


going down now to the camp to tell them that I 
helped to get Saleem away from them.” 

“I’ll go with you, little brother,” Samson de¬ 
clared at once. 

“No” — Roland was very emphatic — “it’s 
between me and the Saleebiyin, Samson.” He 
turned the matter over silently for a moment. 
“Somehow I couldn’t feel right not to tell,” he 
brought out at last. 

Hurried preparations to break camp were in full 
swing when he got down the hill, and there was 
an air of dejection about the whole place. Off to 
one side, and just making ready to mount, was a 
man rather older than the rest. Thick-set, black- 
browed, with an unmistakable air of command 
about him, Roland picked him at once as the 
officer in charge. 

“Who is that?” he demanded of the nearest 
soldier, to be quite sure of himself. 

“The General,” was the curt reply. “What do 
you want of him?” 

But Roland, intent on catching the man before 
he should ride away, hurried on. 

“Sir,” he began — a little timidly, now that he 
had begun to think of what he was to tell — 

There was an impatient movement of the broad 
shoulders, and the black brows drew together till 
they made one formidable line. 

“Sir,” the boy repeated, “I helped your prisoner, 
the Saracen, to escape last night.” 


168 A BOY OF THE LOST CRUSADE 


The man looked at him in blank astonishment. 
‘‘Why,” he said finally, “weren’t you here yester¬ 
day? Aren’t you the son of the Crusader that 
Father Gaspard is trying to get track of?” 

“Yes,” Roland admitted, “my father is Robert 
Arnot. I came to Palestine to find him.” 

“And you say that you helped my prisoner to 
escape, you?^' The General was as incredulous as 
he was amazed. 

All at once a light broke over his puzzled face: 
“Were those cursed sheep and that shepherd your 
accomplices?” he demanded furiously. 

It went through Roland’s head, bewildered at 
this unexpected turn, that the best way to divert 
attention from Samson, as well as Khaleel, was to 
center it on himself. 

“It was I who got the Saracen lad out of the 
tent,” he replied hastily; and at once he went on to 
tell how he had learned to run with the sheep, and 
to wear the fleece, and how, at last, he had put the 
disguise to actual use. 

“And you betrayed your own countrymen to 
their bitterest enemy?” 

Roland’s eyes flashed at the ugly word. “I don’t 
know what you mean by betray,"" he flared back. 
“The boy’s father is my friend — he has risked his 
life for me. Why, I’d do anything for him!” 

The last trace of the General’s composure van¬ 
ished. “Prating of your heathen friendships in the 
face of war that’s red with the blood of Christendom 


A BOY OF THE LOST CRUSADE 169 


— you young jackanapes, you! The son of a Cru¬ 
sader, and yet you — you” — in his rage he cast 
about for a contemptuous enough word — ''steal,'' 
he brought out with biting emphasis — ‘‘steal the 
advantage from us and hand it to the enemy! By 
every saint in the calendar, yes” — he took a step 
toward Roland, and for the first time his anger 
hinted of physical force — “and by my own good 
word, if you were more than a mere child, and if 
you’d not come to me of your own accord, it would 
have gone hard with you. Hard, do you mind.?” 

In the full glare of the man’s wrath the matter 
took on proportions that the boy had never dreamed 
of until now. He, nevertheless, stood the ground 
that he had taken from the first: 

“He was my friend and in trouble — I’d do it 
over again for him!” 

“Well” — the General shrugged his shoulders 
with contemptuous dismissal — “ the matter is over 
and done with. But mind this: you’ve robbed us 
of the chance of a lifetime, and it will be many 
a day before you’ll find its match to turn our 
way.” 

He looked all at once so dispirited and weary, and 
there was such a world of disappointment in his 
stern eyes, that Roland’s heart melted. 

“Believe me, sir,” he cried, out remorsefully, 
“I never meant to harm the Crusaders. And I’ll 
never rest, sir, never ” — he swallowed hard, fighting 
down an uncomfortable tightening at his throat 



170 A BOY OF THE LOST CRUSADE 


— till IVe given back as much as I’ve lost for 
them! ” 

In the warmth of his feeling he took a step 
nearer the General, but the man turned on his heel 
and swung himself onto his horse. 

“Promises are easy to make — I’ll believe yours 
when you’ve put them into deeds,” he said curtly 
as he rode off. 


I 


CHAPTER TEN 


Spring came in a flare of warmth and color, and 
the Shephelah burst into many-colored bloom. No 
garden that Roland had ever seen could compare 
with this blaze of Syrian wild flowers. There were 
great velvety anemones, scarlet and purple; nar¬ 
cissus, sky-blue hyacinths, and masses of golden 
broom; cyclamens of crimson and rose or pure 
white that sprang from every nook and cranny, and 
found root even in the stone walls of the terraced 
vineyards. Everywhere was the smell of fresh- 
ploughed earth; everywhere the fragrance of the 
cream-white blossoms of the olive, and of the dots 
of buds on the grapevines — such tiny things that 
you had to search among the leaves to find them. 
On the plain and in the villages, almond trees 
flowered into pink-and-white sweetness, and the 
splendor of the pomegranate flamed in the hedges. 

A different season, this, Roland reflected, from 
the spring of France, with its days of mist and rain, 
its half-reluctant sunshine and its delicate tints, 
that made one want to step slowly, to speak softly. 
But this country, Syria, ah, this was a brave land! 
No half-colors here, no gentle hesitation of sun or 
earth. Here was brilliance far-flung, widespread, 
generous and free! The scarlet anemones looked you 
gayly in the face, acres of them; there was golden 


172 A BOY OF THE LOST CRUSADE 


broom, and to spare, for the myriad of humming 
bees; and sweet thyme everywhere and always. 

Wild flowers were not the only ones on the 
Shephelah, Roland found, for one unforgettable 
day, when Samson and he had made an errand to 
one of the villages, they came on a garden hedged 
with roses in full bloom. 

For a moment he stood still, overcome with 
sharp memories; then, without a word, he ran to 
the hedge and buried his face in its blossoms. 
Presently he picked one, and, in unconscious 
imitation of his father, he began to turn its petals 
gently back. Samson watched him with puzzled 
eyes. Could this be the boy’s flrst sight of these 
flowers, that he was so moved by their beauty.^ 

“I haven’t seen them for so long,” Roland said 
at last, ‘‘and they reminded me so of home, Sam¬ 
son!” 

Instantly Samson was all sympathetic atten¬ 
tion; and, when he had listened to the story of the 
rose in the garden in France, how Roland’s mother 
bore its name, and how his father had cherished 
the bloom for her sake, “Depend upon it, little 
brother,” he assured the boy warmly, “you’ll never 
lack for roses when the village people know why 
you love them.” 

And he was right, for, when word went round of 
the little Saleebi’s fondness for the flowers, there 
came to be a tender-hearted rivalry among the 
women as to who had the finest ones ready for him. 


A BOY OF THE LOST CRUSADE 173 


Once, as Roland was drinking in the sweetness 
of the lovely things, a sudden misgiving cut sharply 
into his thoughts: would he ever again see his 
father caressing the pink petals? He looked up to 
meet Samson’s affectionate, comprehending gaze 
fastened on him. 

“We shall find him, little brother,^ he said, an¬ 
swering the boy’s mind, “by word of mouth spread 
far and wide. Even the roses themselves may help 
us — who can tell?” 

Spring ripened into summer with its high blue 
skies and its long days of unbroken sunshine. 
Never a drop of rain, Samson said, from winter to 
autumn. But there were heavy dews that made the 
gullies and hillsides wet and sweet in the early 
mornings; and a breeze that blew in from the sea 
freshened the warmest day. 

The Shephelah was anything but quiet now, for 
no sooner were the spring ploughing and planting 
and pruning done with than the figs and grapes be¬ 
gan to ripen, and people came every day to the 
vineyards to stay from morning till night. Every¬ 
where you heard them laughing while they gathered 
the fruit, for this is the happiest of all Syria’s 
seasons, one long joyous fete. One was welcome to 
eat as much and as long as he could; the more, the 
merrier! Such clusters of grapes to be had for the 
picking, tawny-amber, or green, or faintly rosy; 
and figs, purple, and dark red, and green, with as 
many different flavors as colors; though, as Samson 


174 A BOY OF THE LOST CRUSADE 


told Roland, the best of them all was the small 
green one tipped with a drop of honey and made 
just to fit one’s mouth. 

While the talking and laughing and eating went 
on, people had winter in mind, too, and toward the 
end of the season the women and children spread 
quantities of figs out to dry, against the time when 
green things would be gone. 

Finally, the men made the ripest grapes into the 
dibs ^ that Roland liked above everything. There 
were days of filling shallow vats with the amber 
fruit, and more days of squeezing out the juice and 
of boiling it; of mysterious stirrings and beatings; 
and finally, the treacle itself in delicious golden 
perfection! 

Summer ended at last in the gentle showers of 
autumn. Tender green sprang up over the dry 
hills, great cool-looking colchicums of purple and 
white, and short-stemmed saffron crocuses. It 
looked, Roland said to Samson, as if the earth had 
slipped, overnight, into a dress of green spangled 
with white moons and yellow stars. 

People began to come now from the villages to 
harvest the olives, and the wheat and barley. The 
drivers on the threshing-floors were never too busy 
to make room for ‘‘the Frangi boy” on the sledge, 
if, indeed, he could have passed one without taking 
a turn or two on it! With a good running start he 
would land square on it, ride a few moments, roll 

^ Treacle. 


A BOY OF THE LOST CRUSADE 175 


off into the fragrant grain, then climb on again, 
until his clothes and his hair were so thick with 
stubble that the sledge driver declared he would 
pass for a wheatfield! 

“Do you remember your first ride?” Samson 
asked him one day. 

Didn’t he, though! And the ride up from Jaffa, 
and the mysterious peddler who was mysterious no 
longer! 

But for all the fun of the threshing-floors, it was 
the olive orchards that Roland liked better than 
anything on the Shephelah. 

“Whenever I look for you,” Samson declared 
one day, laughing, “I’m certain to find you among 
the olive trees.” 

“To be sure,” Roland agreed, his arms around 
the trunk of the one nearest him. “Do you know, 
Samson, I love them better than any other tree I 
ever saw. They seem like friends, somehow!” 

“They give us a good deal, little brother, don’t 
they? Food and light and fuel!” 

“Yes;' and then the way they spread out their 
branches, as if they wanted to make it easy for us 
to climb into them and play!” 

Samson laughed. “That’s what the flowers 
think, too — see!” He pointed to some cyclamen 
seedlings and bluebells that had lodged in the 
gnarled trunk. 

“In Syria,” he went on, “we say that the grand¬ 
father takes his grandchildren on his knee!” 



176 A BOY OF THE LOST CRUSADE 


One day Rasheed appeared among the olive- 
pickers, and Samson declared that for a full hour 
by the sun the two boys did nothing but compare 
their respective heights and breadths, their growth 
during the year, their swiftness in climbing trees, 
and their skill in using slings. 

“One thing I haven’t forgotten,” Rasheed re¬ 
marked to Roland after a while, “and that is to 
tell everybody I see about your father.” 

“ Good! ” cried Samson, overhearing him. “ That’s 
a seed that may bear fruit one of these days.” 

“Yes,” continued the boy, “every one around 
here knows that Roland has come to find his father, 
and every one passes the story on.” 

To Roland’s amazement, Khaleel declared his 
intention to follow Rasheed’s example and to in¬ 
quire everywhere for Robert Arnot. 

“Why not.^” said Samson, surprised in his turn. 
“Do you think Khaleel wouldn’t do a great deal 
for you? Why, he loves you!” he ended, as if loving 
decided everything. 

It was the same with Khaleel himself: “There’s 
more than Saleebi and Saracen between you and 
me, man-child!” 

“But one of these days, Khaleel,” said the boy 
wistfully, “when I’m a real Saleebi and we meet 
in battle —” 

Khaleel wouldn’t let him go on. “When we 
reach that river we’ll ford it,” he laughed; then, 
more seriously, “Yet whatever Allah wills must be! ” 


A BOY OF THE LOST CRUSADE 177 


It was an endless puzzle to Roland, these differ¬ 
ent ideas of God, and he could never quite settle it. 
The same One must be over all, he reasoned, and 
yet the Christ in whose name the Crusaders fought 
was different enough from the Allah on whom 
Khaleel called, the Allah of the glowing desert who 
ranged himself on the side of the swift Saracen 
bands whose keen blades marked a thin bright edge 
between life and death! 

Between KhaleeFs flying visits, and glimpses now 
and again of Father Gaspard, and errands every 
once in a while to the little villages busy with their 
autumn oil-pressing and dibs-making, there came 
days when Samson and Roland were left to them¬ 
selves. Then Samson would say, “We’ll have my 
people for company, to-day, little brother!” 

And that was what the boy liked better than any¬ 
thing, to hear about Samson’s nation which had 
lived long ago when Roland’s had been not at all, 
and there was no France. 

They were so real to Samson, these heroes of his, 
that he told of them as if he had known them 
always, talked with them yesterday or, for that 
matter, to-day. And so, to Roland, the Shephelah, 
with its sunny hills, its fragrance of wild thyme, 
its warmth, and its gayety of color, became a world 
in which lived again a great people and its great 
deeds; men of the out-of-doors, who had known, 
and put to their use, storms and sunshine, desert 
and brook, mountain and cave. 


178 A BOY OF THE LOST CRUSADE 


His favorite story was that of a boy who tended 
his father’s sheep, as, by an old custom, it fell to the 
youngest son to do. Out in the open this lad, David 
of Bethlehem, grew up straight and alert, afraid 
of nothing, and as able with his shepherd’s crook 
as he was ready with his sling. The great out-of- 
doors was his world; he loved to listen to its voices, 
to heed its moods, and to put them into the music 
of his harp: the quiver of the breeze among the 
reeds, the purling of the brook, the song of birds 
at dawn, the laughter and talking in the vineyards 
and orchards. Ah, he must have been worth know¬ 
ing, that David of the ruddy cheeks and powerful 
arms and skillful fingers, and a king — when he 
came, at last, to be king — to whom any one might 
well be proud to be subject. 

And yet Roland could hardly understand how a 
ruler could be chosen from the common people, 
especially any one who had lived the rough, hardy 
life to which David had been brought up. How 
carefully, now, the sovereigns of France were reared 
in their palaces, with hundreds of servants to 
spare them the least physical effort. Why, a king 
who used his hands for work at which he earned a 
living was unthinkable! 

He said something of what was in his mind to 
Samson, who, in his turn, looked puzzled enough. 

“But the Jews were an out-of-doors, working 
people, and if their ruler hadn’t known what labor 
was, how could he have understood their lives, or 




A BOY OF THE LOST CRUSADE 179 


have known what they were about? And so how 
could he have really ruled them?” 

This was a new view of matters to Roland, and a 
little disconcerting. 

“Do you think,” Samson continued, “that I’d 
obey a man who couldn’t handle a sling or a crook, 
or a threshing-sledge or a plough, especially if he 
despised me because I could and did? It was be¬ 
cause David had lived like his people that he was 
able to lead them, and to defend them. In fact,” 
he ended, “I always thought he felt a good deal 
toward them as he had toward his sheep.” 

In this same familiar fashion Samson spoke, one 
day, of David’s intimacy with every nook and 
cranny of the country, and how he had turned it 
to account against invading armies. 

“Take the ravines of Judaea,” he said, warming 
to his subject, “as much like rough rock steps as 
anything, and then picture to yourself the Philistine 
plainsmen panting clumsily up them — single file, 
for lack of room — while David and his men, wiry 
and agile as goats, hid in the bush on top and waited 
for just the right moment to spring!” 

At Samson’s happy contempt for the unlucky 
Philistines Roland laughed outright. “You talk 
about them as if they were boys trying to outdo 
each other!” 

Samson laughed, too. “Well, I often have 
thought boys could have a glorious time at just 
that sort of play.” 


180 A BOY OF THE LOST CRUSADE 

% 

“Couldn’t they, though!” Roland agreed heart¬ 
ily. Then, as Samson’s picture laid vivid hold of 
him, an idea flashed into his mind; He and Samson 
in the role of David and the Philistines I 

“Of course!” cried Samson. “We’ll look for 
the right sort of ravine now!” 

In the course of a day they found it, rather small, 
to be sure, but steep and narrow enough to answer 
their purpose, and rimmed by thorn bushes and 
rocks. Halfway in its course it forked sharply, and 
ran, two-headed, into the hillside. 

“See, Samson,” Roland pointed out, “it’s even 
better than we planned! The one that defends the 
hilltop will never know which of the two forks the 
enemy will choose!” 

To this Samson had something else to add, and 
that was a small circle of stones above the ravines 
to represent a fort. To make the ascent undis¬ 
covered, reach the fort, and take one of the stones, 
constituted victory unqualified for the enemy. If 
he were detected while still in the stony bottom, it 
was an out-and-out defeat, and he must begin over; 
but let him so much as gain the head of either 
ravine, and the defender must pay the penalty of a 
handicap in the final race for the fort. 

Once, when the day had ended with this king 
of games, Roland asked Samson if all the Jewish 
leaders had been shepherds. 

Some of them, and certainly the greatest of our 
kings.” 


A BOY OF THE LOST CRUSADE 181 


^‘You should have been a king, Samson!” cried 
the boy warmly — this dear Samson to whom he 
would like to give back his country and his scat¬ 
tered people, and then crown him leader of all! 

“Why, I am,” cried Samson gayly. “Who dis¬ 
putes my title? Look at these sheep, now: were 
there ever more loyal subjects?” Then, with a 
turn to practical matters, “Come, little brother! 
How would ripe olives be for supper, with fresh 
cheese and some of this thyme?” 

But when they got home he declared his appetite 
would rival Esau’s, and that nothing but lentil 
pottage would satisfy it. At which Roland, for the 
hundredth time, protested his sympathy for Esau, 
who, for this savory dish, had sold his birthright of 
eldest son. Pottage, when one was hungry! Ah, 
who could resist that on any account? 



CHAPTER ELEVEN 


“Hie de Virgine Maria Jesus Christus natus est'* 

For months Saleem’s escape was the talk of the 
Frankish camps. Some of the Crusaders frowned 
at Roland’s part in it, some laughed, and a few de¬ 
fended him warmly. De Vaubois was one of these, 
though he never lost a chance to prod him about it. 

One day he came on the boy out on the hills and 
hailed him with a wave of the hand: “I didn’t know 
but I’d find you running on all fours!” 

‘‘What do you mean?” demanded Roland sus¬ 
piciously. 

“What indeed!” returned de Vaubois airily; “I 
was only thinking I might learn to do it myself —• 
against time of need,'^ with mischievous emphasis. 

“You never will have done with that!” Roland 
retorted a little resentfully. 

“I never will have done regretting that I didn’t 
witness it — Samson and that big ram of his, and 
you in your sheepskin!” De Vaubois broke off to 
laugh uproariously; and Roland, at the recollec¬ 
tion of Abou Kbeer’s part, laughed, too. 

“May Heaven forgive me,” the Crusader burst 
out, “ but if I had been a boy, and in your place — 
well—!” The next minute his face hardened. 
“But keep it always in mind, lad, that we Frangi 
are here to stand together under the Cross. Some 


A BOY OF THE LOST CRUSADE 183 


day,” with an earnestness that left Roland ponder¬ 
ing, “it may lead where your heart shudders to 
follow. Know where you stand then^ boy! And so” 
— he dropped into his usual tone—^“this friend 
of yours turns out to be no other than our arch¬ 
enemy, the great Khaleel! Tell me,” he said 
curiously, “do you see him often 

“Oh, Chevalier!” Roland broke in beseechingly, 
“don’t ask me anything about Khaleel! Don’t you 
see.^ I can’t help but know a good deal about him, 
and yet he never once asked me not to tell the 
Crusaders about him, though it’s no secret how 
much they want him.” 

“Bless your loyalty, boy! I won’t mention the 
Saracen again, only, of course, one can’t help but 
be curious about such a clever devil. I vow,” he 
chuckled boyishly, “I’d risk anything to get a good 
look at him!” 

Roland barely managed a sober face when he 
thought how near de Vaubois had been to Khaleel, 
the hours he had ridden by his side, and the actual 
words they had exchanged. 

Presently the man himself turned the subject. 
“I really came to see you about Father Gaspard, 
Roland.” 

Instantly the boy was all affectionate solicitude: 
“He’s not ill.?^” 

“No, well enough bodily, but a good deal 
troubled in his mind. The fact is that Father Con- 
stante, and others, wish him to return to France to 



184 A BOY OF THE LOST CRUSADE 

f 

urge men to join the Holy Wars. He’s willing 
enough to try, but the thing that keeps him from 
going at once —” 

“I know,” Roland put in, “the promise he made 
my mother!” 

“That’s it exactly, and the old man is always 
speaking of it to me.” 

“He’s done all any one can to help find my 
father,” Roland declared warmly, “and there’s 
nothing more we can do, Samson says, but to keep 
on telling every one about him. You must say that 
to Father Gaspard from me, Chevalier, and that I 
beg him to go back to France in the service of the 
Cross.” 

“There’s something else that troubles him,” con¬ 
tinued de Vaubois. “He can scarcely bear the 
thought of returning without a sight of the shrines 
of the Holy Land. He speaks of the Holy Se¬ 
pulchre ^ at Jerusalem, but it’s Bethlehem that’s 
oftenest on his lips. ‘To end my days without so 
much as a glimpse of the sacred spot where our 
Lord was born!’ he mourns continually.” 

“Chevalier!” For a moment Roland was silent, 
thinking hard. “I believe,” he said at last, “that 
Father Gaspard can see Bethlehem — I’m sure he 
can.” 

The Crusader scrutinized the boy’s face. “What 
have you in mind, now.^” 

^ Where Christ’s burial and resurrection are said to have taken 
place, whose possession was the object of the Crusades. 



A BOY OF THE LOST CRUSADE 185 


“Be on the watch for a message from me,” Ro¬ 
land replied, evading the question, “sometime in 
the next few days; and Chevalier” — he looked de 
Vaubois squarely in the eye — “you’ll keep it a 
secret, won’t you, you and Father Gaspard?” 

So the matter was left, and a few days later the 
boy took Khaleel himself into his confidence. 

“If you knew how much he wants to see Bethle¬ 
hem, Khaleel, and the place where our Lord was 
born!” he said, unconsciously quoting de Vaubois. 

Khaleel nodded comprehendingly. “The Church 
with the Sacred Caves ^ under it — yes, I know. 
Of course your friend shall see it,” he declared 
heartily. “I’ll take him myself. The old priest, 
isn’t he, who didn’t want Samson to have you 
that day at Jaffa?” He smiled at the recollec¬ 
tion; then, “You’ll go with us, of course, man- 
child?” 

Of course Roland would go! To see Bethlehem 
with Khaleel as guide was a chance that didn’t 
come too often in a lifetime. 

So, one day, when a Syrian lad delivered to 
Father Gaspard this mysterious message, “What 
you most wish awaits you at the hut of Samson II 
Yahoodi, to-morrow, at nightfall,” the priest at 
once sought out de Vaubois. 

' “Shall I go?” he demanded, excited as a boy. 

“Shall you go?” laughed the Crusader. “Of 
course, go. Samson’s name is a guarantee for fair 

^ Church of the Nativity. 


186 A BOY OF THE LOST CRUSADE 


dealing, you know that. As for what the message 
means, let Roland tell you! But, Father”—he 
lowered his tone and became serious — “not a 
breath of this to any one; I know enough of it to 
be sure that an indiscreet word would bring dis¬ 
aster.” 

The Chevalier’s warning was borne out by Ro¬ 
land himself, for, when Father Gaspard, divided 
between boyish love of adventure and a half-fearful 
curiosity, reached the hut, the first greeting that 
he heard was: 

“The finest news in the world for you. Father! 
But you must promise to keep it a secret, to ask 
no questions, and never to mention what’s going 
to happen presently. You see, it’s a matter of 
honor, sir,” Roland went on earnestly, “and even 
of life and death.” 

And, when Father Gaspard had assented, “ You’re 
to see Bethlehem to-night,” the boy announced 
triumphantly. “There!” 

“Bethlehem? But Bethlehem is held by the 
Saracens!” 

“Nevertheless, you’re going there with one of 
them for guide!” 

Father Gaspard looked doubtful. “No matter 
how much I want to see the birthplace of our Lord,” 
he demurred, “I wouldn’t compromise with my 
faith — and if a Saracen is to take us —” Then, 
quite unable to contain himself any longer, he 
burst out, “What have we to do with Saracens?” 


A BOY OF THE LOST CRUSADE 187 


Before Roland could reply, Samson, who guessed 
from the priest’s face his fear and suspicion, stepped 
forward and smiled full at him, and then nodded 
as if to say, ‘‘ All is right! Do trust us!” 

The day was won! Father Gaspard’s misgivings 
vanished, and his face broke into sunshine. “It’s a 
pact, my boy! Agreed!” And the matter once 
settled, no one could have been more eager to be 
off. “Bethlehem! Blessed, blessed day when I 
behold thee!” he whispered rapturously to himself. 

Presently, over the brow of the hill, there ap¬ 
peared a mounted Saracen with two riderless 
horses. Roland saw instantly that the horseman 
was not Khaleel. 

“It’s Ahmed,” Samson remarked in a low voice 
aside, “Khaleel’s most trusted companion.” 

“But Khaleel said he himself would take us,” 
the boy insisted. 

“Something has happened, you may be sure, to 
prevent his coming,” Samson replied slowly. Then 
a light broke over his face. “I know,” he chuckled, 
“you’re to have two guides, little brother, — you’ll 
see — so that Father Gaspard will never know 
which is Khaleel!” 

Ahmed’s serious polite salaam over, the little 
party set off at once toward the Judaean highland 
that loomed, black and level, against the eastern 
sky. Father Gaspard eyed the Saracen with a de¬ 
vouring curiosity that made Roland almost burst 
with amusement. It was plain that the good soul 



188 A BOY OF THE LOST CRUSADE 


could hardly keep to his word to ask no ques¬ 
tions. 

‘‘And so you know them, these infidels.^” he 
ventured; then, afraid that he had trodden on 
forbidden ground, he changed the subject hastily. 
“Roland, lad, the Chevalier told you of Father 
Constante’s wish, that I should return to France.^” 

“And so you should, sir!” the boy said heartily. 
“Do go. Father,” he urged; “no harm will come to 
me with Samson. As for my father, why, every one 
is helping me to find him, even” — he broke off 
abruptly, for he had almost said “even Khaleel” 
— “all my friends,” he ended. “But, Father,” he 
went on, “I may never again see my father; he may 
have fallen in battle. I must be ready for that. 
And if he is — dead ” — he hesitated over the hard 
word — “his son should take his place!” 

Now, as a matter of fact, Roland had always ex¬ 
pected, sometime, when he was older, to join the 
Crusades; sometime, in the vague future. But the 
memorable talk with the General after the rescue of 
Saleem, together with what de Vaubois had said at 
their last meeting, had set him to thinking. And 
now, something in the way that Father Gaspard 
bore himself, his unconscious forgetfulness of him¬ 
self in his devotion to the great Cause, cleared the 
situation for the boy: he was old enough now to 
serve the Cross! 

Father Gaspard, riding close to him, was amazed 
at the look of manly decision on his face. 



A BOY OF THE LOST CRUSADE 189 

WTiy, ’ he said to himself, ‘Hhe lad is no longer 
a child, but a youth, with manhood close at 
hand. Then, aloud, “Never shall I hear a more 
joyful word, Roland, boy, worthy of Robert Ar- 
not and worthy of our common cause. Heaven be 
praised!” 

“Father,” Roland said quietly, “I haven’t for¬ 
gotten that I am one of the Children Crusaders!” 

“Bless you, boy!” cried the priest fervently, 
“though not so much of a child, after all! Let’s see, 
now, you’re fourteen.^” 

“And on the way to fifteen. That’s old enough 
to be a Crusader.” 

For a moment the two were silent; then Roland 
said, with that new resolution that had surprised 
the priest, “I’ll go to some coast camp. Father. 
There will be something for me to do.” 

What Father Gaspard replied was lost on him, 
for a sudden familiar sound of rhythmic hoofbeats 
caught his ear, and, as he turned to look behind 
him, he saw that Khaleel, unmistakable even by 
starlight, had silently taken Ahmed’s place. Sam¬ 
son’s prediction had been right! 

“Did you know me?” inquired Khaleel, a few 
moments later, laughing quietly as he rode along¬ 
side of Roland. 

“As if any one else ever sat a horse like you, or 
any other horse stepped like II Howa!” Then, 
glancing at Father Gaspard, “He’s so happy at the 
thought of Bethlehem, Khaleel!” 


190 A BOY OF THE LOST CRUSADE 


“We shan’t be so long getting there,” Khaleel 
replied, “once we are out of the wadis. 

The path they took was as rough as it was varied. 
Now it followed the stony bottom of a valley, or 
climbed a hillside, doubled on itself around the 
edges of a ravine, only to repeat its twists and 
turns again and again. But at last they were on 
level ground, with a sense of being high above the 
rest of the world. Then a few miles along a traveled 
way, and presently Khaleel was pointing out a 
ridge topped by flat-roofed houses white in the 
starlight. 

Roland translated the glad news for Father Gas- 
pard: “Bethlehem! The city of David, Father!” 

“And of a Greater than David,” the priest an¬ 
swered, hardly above a whisper, as if it were too 
sacred a thought to say aloud; then, as he looked 
about the quiet upland, “Somewhere, here, the 
shepherds lay when the angels sang the news of the 
Holy Child!” 

As they turned into the village, he halted long 
enough to dismount. “I couldn’t ride over this 
holy ground, lad,” he said humbly to Roland. And 
so, leading his horse, he went forward with bowed 
head. 

Through the dark streets of close-set, thick- 
walled houses, Khaleel led the way into a silent, 
empty square, and stopped at last before a gloomy, 
formidable building. Instantly, and as if by magic, 

^ Ravines. 


A BOY OF THE LOST CRUSADE 191 

a door opened in the heavy wall, and a shaft of light 
streamed out into the night. There was a be¬ 
wildered moment of quick dismounting, of passing 
single file and with bent heads through the low, 
narrow doorway; and then, half blind with the 
sudden light, and dizzy with the long ride and the 
thrill of the place and hour. Father Gaspard and 
Roland found themselves between the massive 
pillars and bare walls of the Church of St. Mary, 
with Khaleel smiling down at them. 

“Tell the Father,’’ he said to Roland, “that we 
go first to the Sacred Cave, the birthplace of your 
Messiah. Stay there as long as you will, no one 
shall disturb you; and, after you have looked your 
fill, come up here into the church. When you are 
ready to go, strike three times on the door by which 
we entered.” 

He walked quickly ahead to the farther end of 
the nave, and through a door cut in a stone wall 
that stretched across the church. As he followed, 
Roland recognized in the dim light an altar, and 
was reminded instantly of the one in the little 
church at home. 

“But why the wall, Khaleel,” he inquired, “to 
cut off the altar from the rest of the Church?” 

The black eyes gleamed with boyish amusement. 
“If you must have the truth, man-child,” he half 
apologized, “it was put there by the Saleebiyin, 
when they were having their turn here — against 
a possible Saracen attack!” 


192 A BOY OF THE LOST CRUSADE 


“Did you know that, Father?” Roland asked 
as he translated Khaleel’s story in French. 

“Some years ago,” Father Gaspard said quietly; 
“from a returned pilgrim. He drew me a plan of the 
church, too, and of the Sacred Caves below. See,” 
he broke off, “that must be where we are going 
now.” For Khaleel had turned down a narrow 
stairway to one side of the altar, and presently they 
stood in an underground cave half vault, half room. 

“Stay as long as you will,” Khaleel repeated. 
“You are my guests!” And with that he vanished 
up the narrow stairs. 

Father Gaspard, pale with emotion, had fallen 
on his knees, his lips moving in adoration. 

“Ah, Roland, boy,” he said at last, “in all that 
Holy Life the moments I love best are those when 
He blessed little children, and when He Himself 
lay here” — he looked lovingly about the rough 
chamber —^ “a tiny, lovely child in the arms of his 
mother, Mary!” 

There were other caves, near by, into which the 
two found their way, and in one of them. Father 
Gaspard said, the great Jerome, scholar and saint, 
had made his famous translation of the Bible,^ 
that was used now by the whole Christian world. 

“And now, here,” the priest continued, as they 
went up from the Sacred Caves into the Church, 
“here, where we stand, was written one of the 
noblest chapters of the Holy Wars. Find courage 

^ The Vulgate. 



A BOY OF THE LOST CRUSADE 193 


in the learning of it, lad, even as I do in the 
telling/’ 

His eyes traveled meditatively the length of the 
nave, and fixed at last on the stone wall at its end, 
the wall built when Frankish might was in its 
flower. 

‘‘Such a day as it was!” he began, a little un¬ 
steadily. “A hundred years ago, and Christmas 
Day, at that! Rank upon rank of Crusaders sea¬ 
soned by battle and adventure; lords and bishops 
ablaze with gold and jewels; even the native Chris¬ 
tians of Bethlehem, awed and happy; and every¬ 
where, on breast and banner, scarlet, the brave 
scarlet of the Cross! 

“For this, you must know, lad, is a coronation 
and a triumph in one: A triumph for the Armies of 
the Cross, and the crowning of Palestine’s first 
Christian king, Baldwin of Flanders. The crown 
is placed on his head” — one might almost have 
thought that an eye-witness was speaking — “and 
he is proclaimed King of the Latin Kingdom of 
Jerusalem. And then! From every Crusader of 
high degree and low, flooding nave and aisle with 
its ringing music, bursts our ancient battle-cry, 
‘God wills it! God wills it!’ So, for almost a hun¬ 
dred years — a hundred glorious years — Cru¬ 
sader kings ruled Palestine, and over its length and 
breadth waved the Cross, victorious!” 

The old man stood staring into the shadowy 
aisles, as if, beyond their gloom, he saw the ranks 


194 A BOY OF THE LOST CRUSADE 


of armored figures; then, in an agony of appeal, he 
flung his arms up. “Once again, O blessed Son of 
blessed Mary,” he implored, “once more, grant 
victory to Thine armies of the Cross!” 

And Roland, hardly knowing that he himself 
spoke, cried softly under his breath, “Dieu le volt! 
Dieu le volt!” 

“Let us go, lad, remembering it so,” Father 
Gaspard said quickly, and the boy, his eyes full of 
the splendid bygone Christmas Day, struck three 
times, as Khaleel had told him, on the low, narrow 
door. 

It was cool morning outside, and Bethlehem had 
begun to stir. House doors opened and women 
came out, jar on head, bound for the fountain. Men 
were already in the vineyards. 

“This time,” Khaleel said, “we’ll travel as the 
sun does, in a straight line, because we must race 
with him! ” 

And, as good as his word, he led the way due 
west, off the road more often than not, across fields 
and orchards, with short cuts from one winding 
valley to the next. Just so, Roland said to himself, 
David hurried down to his famous encounter with 
the Philistine giant. 

When the last steep turn brought the Shephelah 
into view, Roland, for the life of him, could not go 
on, but must stop to devour its bright hills with 
hungry eyes. It had always seemed to him made 
for a boy. Shepherds might pasture their flocks in 


A BOY OF THE LOST CRUSADE 195 

its hollows, and villagers harvest its grain fields and 
olive orchards, but above all, oh, mightily above 
all, a boy might play there! 

Khaleel and Father Gaspard had ridden ahead, 
but they turned round at his voice. 

“I can’t stay so far from it,” he called, laughing; 
“I must feel it under my feet,” and he slipped from 
his horse to the ground. He stood there a moment, 
then bowed low. “Marhaba, O Shephelah!”—• 
Syria’s most serious, most grave and tender salu¬ 
tation: “Hail, O Shephelah!” 

At first sight of Samson, he started toward him 
with a shout: 

“Samson! We walked where David, your King, 
walked, and I saw the place where one of my kings 
was crowned! But the best of it is” — he took a 
long breath of the pungent air—“getting back!” 

Samson laughed delightedly. “I know! Like a 
drink of cold water when one is parched.” 

Meanwhile Khaleel had turned the horses toward 
the east and Roland ran to him for a last word. 
Father Gaspard watched the two, his face alight 
with the rapt look that had come to it in the Sacred 
Cave. 

“Tell the Saracen for me, lad,” he said gently, 
“that he has made the dream of an old man come 
true!” 


CHAPTER TWELVE 


For the next few days Roland turned over and over 
in his mind the matter of joining the Crusader 
forces. His first step, he concluded, must depend 
upon the counsel of Father Gaspard and of the 
Chevalier. One or the other of them would come 
up from the coast presently to see him, and mean¬ 
while he would say nothing to Samson of what was 
to come. 

But the thought of it all filled the boy’s heart to 
bursting. To leave the Shephelah that he loved 
from every curve of its sunny hills to the bees that 
hummed over its wild thyme; never again to water 
the sheep nor to run with Abou; above all, to leave 
Samson, the best beloved, was something that he 
could hardly face. Sometimes at night he woke 
with the same feeling of desolation that he had 
when his mother had died. Yet, on the whole, there 
was a sort of sober exhilaration in his new decision, 
and always the banner of the Crusades seemed to 
float before his eyes, a silent summons to fill the 
place that Robert Arnot had left empty. 

Then, at a moment’s notice, without so much 
as a word of ceremony or preparation, the call to 
service came, and Roland stepped into the ranks of 
those who followed the great red Cross. 

One afternoon Samson had gone ahead with the 


A BOY OF THE LOST CRUSADE 197 

main flock to the watering-troughs while Roland 
and Abou Kbeer, at the rear, brought the stragglers 
into line, when, all at once, the boy heard his name 
spoken. He stopped short and listened. No, only a 
trick of his imagination, for there was not a soul 
in sight. 

“Roland!” There! Again! No fancy at all. 

“The cave, boy, the cave,” went on the voice 
impatiently. 

To be sure! He knew it now for de Vaubois’s, and 
that it came, moreover, from the hillside cave. 

“Look the other way,” commanded the Cheva¬ 
lier. “By all the Saints, don’t excite suspicion!” 

“What do you want me to do?” demanded the 
boy, thoroughly bewildered. 

“ Come here at dusk — the very moment, lad. 
Go along now, and never a word, mind, to any one.” 

The Chevalier was very much in earnest and 
evidently under a great strain, so, with the assur¬ 
ance that he would be at the cave with the first 
sign of dusk, Roland ran on with Abou. 

Something important was afoot, no doubt about 
that, and, as soon as the sheep were watered and 
driven up to the fold, he said quietly: “I’m going off 
for a little, Samson; perhaps I’ll get some pebbles for 
my sling.” But at the question in Samson’s eyes, he 
added, “I can’t tell you why, now, but don’t fear 
for me. I’ll be back soon.” 

He made his way noiselessly down the hillside, his 
ears alert for the least sound, his eyes now on the 


198 A BOY OF THE LOST CRUSADE 

shadowy gullies, now on the sharp-cut sky-line. 
Then, a last swift glance around, and he had flat¬ 
tened himself against the hill, squirmed behind the 
bramble overhang, and was in the cave. 

“Heaven and the Saints be praised that you’re 
here,” whispered some one fervently, and Roland 
made out de Vaubois waiting patiently in the 
gloom. 

“I haven’t been long, have I?” 

“Not really, but, if you’d waited here for twelve 
hours and put out your eyes trying to look through 
that mess of thorns—” 

“ Twelve hours!” Roland broke in. “ Why, that’s 
since early this morning.” 

“Just so,” agreed the Chevalier. “I started 
afoot from the coast in the night, and how I got 
here I don’t know. I bent myself double most of 
the way, I groveled among bushes and boulders so 
that no one would see me, and, to crown it all, I 
was in a panic lest daylight should come on before 
I could find this cave and get under cover.” 

“But, ChevaUer,” protested Roland, “you’ve 
been riding up here openly enough. What’s hap¬ 
pened?” 

De Vaubois went on as if he had not heard the 
question: “It seemed as if you never would get 
within earshot! I’ve seen you and Samson on and 
off all day, but you were always too far away. If 
you hadn’t happened to wander up here, I meant 
to make a break for your hut when it was dark, risk 


A BOY OF THE LOST CRUSADE 199 


or—’’ He stopped short; then in the same low 
whisper he went impetuously on: “Listen, lad,” 
— he seized Roland’s wrists — “ the Saleebiyin need 
you! Will you help us?” 

Roland’s heart leaped within him. To be needed, 
to be of service to his countrymen, to have the 
chance to prove his loyalty to the Cause! 

“Tell me how,” he said breathlessly. 

“By doing an errand for us, Roland, a most 
serious, most important errand. We thought of you 
because you speak Arabic like the natives, and you 
can go anywhere in this country and pass as one of 
them, except” — de Vaubois paused doubtfully —■ 
“except, perhaps, for your fair hair.” 

“Oh, that!” exclaimed the boy. “Why, I can 
stain it, or cut it off — a dozen things! Go on, 
Chevalier.” 

With Khaleel for pattern, the matter of disguise 
was the last to trouble him. 

“We want you,” said the Chevalier, going 
straight to the point, “ to take a message to the com¬ 
mandant at Kaiserieh.”^ His murmur sank to a 
mere whisper: “Lean forward, boy, let me speak in 
your ear — so!” 

There followed a brief explanation. The situa¬ 
tion, it seemed, was this: The Franks had decided, 
by combining their resources, to strike a desperate 
blow for their lost possessions. It had been agreed 
that the forces at Kaiserieh and at Jaffa should 


* Caesarea. 


200 A BOY OF THE LOST CRUSADE 


meet halfway between those two places and march 
inland together, prepared to launch an aggressive 
campaign. But, within the last two days, the 
Chevalier said, scouts had reported the lower spurs 
of the Shephelah, and even parts of the plain, alive 
with hostile bands. There was no doubt that some¬ 
how or other the Saracens had got wind of the 
Crusaders’ plans, and were preparing to checkmate 
them. Nothing would be gained now by a massed 
advance, and the commandant at Jaffa had decided 
that the Kaiserieh camp must remain quiet for 
the present while he sent his men in small companies 
here and there to draw the enemy out and to dis¬ 
sipate their strength. 

As soon as the Saracens had been sufficiently 
scattered, the Crusader armies must seize and press 
their advantage. For this the Kaiserieh forces 
must save themselves; must be ready at a signal 
to join the Jaffa camp in the final attempt. Every¬ 
thing depended, now, not only on warning Kaiserieh 
in time of the change in plan, but on taking the 
instructions with the utmost secrecy, for let the 
Saracens suspect that messages were passing be¬ 
tween the Frankish camps, and at once they would 
be on their guard for a new move. A Crusader, 
therefore, in the regular service — de Vaubois 
emphasized his words — could hardly perform this 
errand without being recognized and, so, frustrat¬ 
ing its purpose. 

Roland nodded comprehendingly. It was clear 


A BOY OF THE LOST CRUSADE 201 


enough now that a place had opened in the ranks 
that could be filled by just one, and he the son of 
Robert Arnot. 

‘^When?” he asked quietly. 

“Three nights from now,” de Vaubois replied 
with a grasp on Roland’s shoulder that made him 
wince, “Kaiserieh must know!” 

He searched the boy’s eyes, his own somber 
with the challenge. “Three nights from now,” he 
went on, “at latest; for, with the following dawn, 
acting on the first plan, and ignorant of recent de¬ 
velopments, they march inland — to sure defeat. 
Just you, lad, between them and it.” 

“Three days and nights,” Roland meditated 
aloud, “is time and to spare. I’ve never been to 
Kaiserieh, but as for the distance —” He shrugged 
his shoulders as if he disposed of that consideration 
with the gesture. 

“Then,” said de Vaubois, “I’ll tell you the lay 
of the land.” And, as good as his word, he went 
over the details of the ground to be covered. 

“Half a day or so, before you reach Kaiserieh,” 
he ended, “you’ll come to a hill, and from there, 
if you’ve made no wrong turns, you’ll see, ahead 
of you, a thread of green that’s a ravine grown up 
with oleanders; beyond that, oak thickets, olive 
and mulberry orchards, and a scattering of little 
villages; then a road, and Kaiserieh is just be¬ 
yond, to the west, with the smell of the sea to 
guide you!” 


202 A BOY OF THE LOST CRUSADE 


“It’s as clear as daylight,” the boy assured him. 
“Listen, now,” and he repeated word for word de 
Vaubois’s instructions. “Don’t be uneasy, Cheva¬ 
lier. In three nights from now, the commandant 
at Kaiserieh shall know the message — you may 
tell your commandant at JaflFa so, and Father Gas- 
pard, too.” 

“Father Gaspard?” the Chevalier stammered. 
“Why, didn’t you know.^ — I forgot to tell you — 
Father Gaspard has sailed, lad, for Genoa and 
Marseilles!” 

And he told of the monk’s sudden decision to ship 
with a merchant packet a fortnight or more ago. 

“I wish with all my heart I could have seen him 
again,” the boy said sorrowfully. “Though, after 
all,” he thought to himself, “what better good-bye 
could there have been than the sight of Bethlehem 
together!” Aloud, he asked solicitously, “How 
are you yourself going to get back to Jaffa, Cheva¬ 
lier.?” 

“As I came,” whispered the Crusader. “Don’t 
fear for me — I was born under a lucky star!” 

“Then I’m off, and all good fortune to you!” 

“Multiply that a hundred fold, my boy, and you 
have my wish for you!” 

Roland found Samson waiting for him outside 
the hut. In the two years that they had been to¬ 
gether, this was the first secret between them! 

“I’m so sorry, Samson! I can’t tell you where 
I’ve been, nor where I’m going.” 


A BOY OF THE LOST CRUSADE 203 


‘‘Going?” cried Samson in dismay. “Now?” 

“It’s something that I must do for my country,” 
was all Roland could say. “I’ll be gone five days, 
at least, perhaps longer; and Samson,” he added 
meaningly, “it’s just as well not to know where 
I am — in case you’re asked!” 

“But, little brother, what will you do for food 
and drink?” protested Samson anxiously, and, as if 
the thought of losing the boy were intolerable, 
“I’ll go with you!” he cried. 

“Indeed, you mustn’t! No, Samson, trust me; 
I’ll be back with you soon. What are you afraid 
of? I can take care of myself anywhere, for you’ve 
taught me! I must be off,” Roland ended, “early 
in the morning while it’s dark.” 

When the time came, Samson slipped a loaf of 
bread filled with olives into the boy’s girdle. 

“If any trouble comes, little brother, you know 
how to send me a messenger, and I’ll be on the w^ay 
to you before he has turned round to go back!” 

Roland swung along quickly over the familiar 
turns, past the nearest village, and then straight 
for a certain stream where he knew that walnut 
trees grew. For walnuts he must have the first 
thing, he thought to himself, and before it was 
too light. 

At the edge of the water he sat down, took out 
his knife and sharpened it on a stone. Then, lock 
by lock, he cut off his hair until only a short 
bristly growth was left. He ran his hands over it. 


204 A BOY OF THE LOST CRUSADE 


Yes, that was short enough, and it was fairly even, 
too. The next step wasn’t so easy, Roland re¬ 
flected. He gathered a quantity of the nuts, placed 
them on a large flat rock, and crushed them with a 
stone until the thick rinds were pulp. Then he 
covered his hands and arms and legs with the 
juicy mass and rubbed it in vigorously. Good! 
That would do! More rinds, more pounding, and 
this time it was the face and neck and the close- 
cropped head that came in for their share of the 
dark juice. Finally he leaned over the placid water 
and scrutinized his reflection. But for his blue eyes 
he might have passed for one of those wandering 
Bedouins that he had seen once or twice! 

Now for some bread and olives, and then, he was 
off again, over the last hilly breaks of the Shephelah 
and on to the plain that stretched away to the sea 
and the Crusader camps. Always he bore to the 
northwest as de Vaubois had told him, and always 
he kept his eyes and ears open for news of the 
Saracens. Twice he met a string of loaded mules 
heading toward Damascus, and more than once he 
saw at a distance the flying Saracen ba!nds. One 
evening, when he stopped to drink at a fountain, 
a woman who was filling her jars inquired indiffer¬ 
ently where he came from and he pointed east to 
the Shephelah villages; and from her casual glance 
and her natural air he knew that she didn’t see 
behind the walnut stain! 

At last, late on the third afternoon, he recognized 


A BOY OF THE LOST CRUSADE 205 


the hill that the Chevalier had mentioned. He 
hadn’t missed his way; of that he was certain, for 
the landscape lay before him as de Vaubois had 
described it. There, even, was the blue glint of 
distant sea, and near it, he calculated, must be the 
great camp, athrob with the bustle of preparation 
that he must stop — he! 

For a moment he gave himself up to a vision of 
the horses, the gleaming armor, the men, rank upon 
rank; men of his mother tongue, of his mother¬ 
land! 

Unconsciously he squared his shoulders and 
took a deep breath, while he reckoned the rest of 
his journey by hours rather than by distance, as 
one does in Syria: over this open ground to the 
wooded growth beyond; then that space broken 
into patches of gray and green that marked olives 
from mulberries; and after that — Kaiserieh! Four 
hours would do it easily, allowing even for a delay 
if he should lose the way. 

Beyond him ran the ravine that de Vaubois 
had said looked like a thread of green. Perhaps 
there would be a tiny gleam of water at the bottom, 
and, to a certainty, shade and coolness in which, he 
told himself, he could make better time than up 
here in the glare and heat. 

He found that the gorge began prosaically 
enough in a shallow depression, then, as if weary 
of the sun, it plunged steeply into cool depths by 
a series of rocky steps. Over these fell a slender 


206 A BOY OF THE LOST CRUSADE 


stream that gave never a moment’s peace to the 
overhanging ferns and vines from its dash and 
spatter. 

For only a breath of freshness Roland stopped 
above the swaying fronds and silver spray; then, 
holding on by trees and bushes, he let himself down 
the steep sides, his hands sticky with the oleander 
blossoms that he clutched in his swift scramble. 

Just ahead of him, a huge boulder almost blocked 
the narrow gorge, and tumbled about it was a 
helter-skelter of rocks and sticks and fallen tree- 
trunks; but it was his fancy not to let a single 
obstacle slow the brisk pace he had set for him¬ 
self, so on he went, his feet as alert as his head. 
Leaping from stone to stone, with never a moment’s 
hesitation in which to lose his balance, he came 
abreast of the boulder, cleared it at a bound and 
stood on the other side of it — face to face with a 
squad of Saracen soldiers! They had evidently 
watched his coming, for there was not a sign of 
surprise on the grave faces. 

“You are far from home, my son,” one of them 
said kindly. “Where is Samson 

Instantly Roland recognized Ahmed, the horse¬ 
man who had ridden part way to Bethlehem with 
him and Father Gaspard, even as Ahmed had 
known him in spite of cropped head and stained 
face. 

“Samson.^” Roland replied with a show of in¬ 
difference that he was far from feeling. “Oh, up 



A BOY OF THE LOST CRUSADE 207 

yonder,” with a careless gesture; ‘‘I’m going to him 
presently.” 

Was it imagination, or did Ahmed’s eyes narrow 
a trifle, his lips tighten imperceptibly? 

“Yes,” he agreed courteously, “that’s where 
you’d best be, by all means, with Samson. One of 
my men shall go with you to see that you reach him 
in safety.” 

That was all, but Roland knew now how he and 
Ahmed stood, and that the reply held a two-edged 
meaning. He needed no further proof that the 
Saracen was here to watch the movements of the 
Crusaders, and that he meant to take no risks of 
any kind. The boy could hardly restrain a laugh, 
alarmed and disconcerted though he was, at the dis¬ 
arming adroitness which reduced him, at a stroke, 
to uselessness. As he stood there, casting about 
desperately for some way to evade Ahmed’s pro¬ 
position and at the same time to allay his suspicion, 
a half-whispered murmur from some one in the 
band reached his ears: “The Frangi boy who saved 
Saleem!” 

His first impulse was to see who had spoken, but 
he checked it, and continued to look here and there 
with a casual air as if he had not heard the remark. 

All at once his attention was caught by two men 
who were standing a little apart from the rest. The 
taller of them was watching Ahmed with a look of 
almost idiotic joy, as if an opportunity that he had 
long waited for had at last come. The other was a 


208 A BOY OF THE LOST CRUSADE 


figure that made Roland shiver in spite of himself. 
He was an Oriental, the boy decided, though 
neither Syrian nor Saracen. But whatever his 
nationality, there was no doubt about his origin 
in the very depths and dregs of evil — evil that 
leered from his half-closed eyes and writhed in his 
twisted lips. 

Involuntarily the boy shrank back a little from 
the snake-like face, but the next moment Ahmed 
began to speak and Roland forgot everything else 
but the words which sealed the doom of his errand 
to Kaiserieh. 

“Take the lad back now,’’ Ahmed was saying 
kindly, but with unmistakable significance, to the 
soldier nearest him, “and leave him only when you 
have seen him safe with the shepherd.” 

Before there was chance for a reply, the Saracen 
whom Roland had noticed stepped forward and 
saluted Ahmed. His face had lost its look of crazed 
delight, and was quite stolid, almost stupid. ' 

“ Ya seedi,”^ he said, “ as our orders are to let no 
one pass this line in any direction after nightfall” 
— he glanced at the deepening shadows — “should 
not the lad remain here till daylight?” 

That the man had some rank which gave him the 
right to question his superior, one saw from his 
dress and bearing; and, in spite of his deferential 
tone, one felt that he intended to exercise his 
privilege to the full. But whatever purpose was 

^ My master. 



A BOY OF THE LOST CRUSADE 209 

behind his words, they were the sweetest music 
Roland had ever heard, for, give him only the 
chance to stay here, and he would risk all his hopes 
of salvation on finding some way to escape to 
Kaiserieh. 

Ahmed made no reply and, for a moment, ap¬ 
peared to consider. In his grave, kind eyes Roland 
saw a baffled look, and then, though it was hardly 
perceptible, the boy could have sworn that there 
was a little stir among the half-dozen men who 
stood nearest to Ahmed and that they moved closer 
to him. 

“So be it, Haroun,” he said at last. “The lad 
shall stay.” 

Instantly Roland was aware that the assent had 
been given only because there was some reason for 
not coming to open issue with Haroun; while at the 
same time a mysterious instinct told him that the 
Saracen party was divided: Ahmed and the men 
about him, against Haroun and the rest — in¬ 
cluding the strange Oriental! He had not so much 
as uttered a syllable, but it leaped into Roland’s 
mind all at once that it was he who had silently 
willed the words into Haroun’s tongue, words that 
thwarted Ahmed, and, wittingly or not, cleared 
the way for the Chevalier’s message to the Saleebi 
camp at Kaiserieh! 

Before the boy could collect himself in the face 
of these bewildering undercurrents of hostility and 
cross-purposes, there was a general move down 


210 A BOY OF THE LOST CRUSADE 


the ravine, and toward the level ground above. 
Roland followed, with Haroun just ahead, while 
Ahmed and his men brought up the rear. 

All at once Ahmed stumbled and pitched vio¬ 
lently forward against Roland, sending him sprawl¬ 
ing on the ground. In the confusion that followed 
he felt his arm seized and heard Ahmed whisper 
in his ear: “Have no fear of them, lad, but don’t 
trust them. They are trying to turn the soldiers 
against Khaleel — he will be here at dawn! ” 

So his suspicions were right! The Saracen band 
was shot through with intrigue — no less real be¬ 
cause it was undeclared — aimed, not at Ahmed, 
as he had at first thought, but at the army’s 
head. 

A thousand conflicting emotions tore at the boy. 
He felt like a deserter, a traitor. A plot against 
Khaleel, while he, whom Khaleel had never failed, 
left Ahmed and his faithful few to defend their 
leader’s honor as best they might; for that he him¬ 
self would somehow make his way to Kaiserieh by 
daybreak Roland never doubted for a moment. 

He was so absorbed by his troubled reflections 
that he hardly noticed nor cared where the Saracens 
were taking him, but, as they came out onto open 
ground and preparations for the night were started, 
it dawned on him that this was one of their obser¬ 
vation posts. By day they hid in the gorge, by night 
they camped above it, and from either place any 
move from the plain or the coast could hardly elude 




A BOY OF THE LOST CRUSADE 211 


them. It was as de Vaubois had said, the Frankish 
attack was suspected. 

“Here, Saleebi, eat!” Some one thrust a loaf 
of bread into his hands, and, as he munched it, he 
looked about him to reckon his chances for escape. 
The soldiers, for the most part, had lain down 
on the ground, some of them already asleep. Ahmed 
and his men sat a little apart from the rest. Some 
one of the band, Roland knew, would be chosen 
soon to watch while the others slept. Who would 
it be, he wondered impatiently. Where would he 
take up his post, and how soon? 

Meanwhile, it was quite clear to him that Haroun 
was keeping a vigilant eye on him, and, on one 
pretext or another, was preventing him from going 
near Ahmed. What did the man want of him? 
he wondered uneasily. He must have some reason 
for detaining him in the camp. 

Presently Haroun ordered him to lie down and 
go to sleep, and then flung himself on the ground 
within arm’s length. It was hardly a minute later 
that Roland felt rather than saw that some one 
had joined them, and through half-closed eyelids 
he made out the Oriental sitting beside Haroun. 
The arch-rebel of them all, the boy told himself, 
with his snake-like eyes and his twisted mouth! 
These two, then, whom he had suspected all along 
of being in league, were to be his guards, his evil 
hosts with whom he must reckon this night, outwit, 
and escape. 


212 A BOY OF THE LOST CRUSADE 


He found himself wondering over and over why 
they had wanted to keep him here. Then he 
brought himself up with a round turn: he must rid 
himself of these useless questionings and begin at 
once to contrive a way out of his trap. 

Presently a plan took shape in his mind, and, 
acting on it, he began to whimper and sob like a 
homesick child. There was a sound of disapproval 
from Haroun, followed by an impatient foot. Ro¬ 
land only cried the more piteously and raised him¬ 
self as if to ease his insulted leg, but really to see 
how matters stood for the night. When he lay 
down again, he had found out what he wished to 
make sure of, that out of the entire band only 
these two stood watch. 

Gradually his pretended tears quieted. His 
breath came in long, gasping sobs, finally grew 
deep and regular; and, to all appearances, he slept 
at last, the image of a relaxed, tired child. 

“See!” One of the watchers leaned over him 
and raised his arm. Instantly it dropped like lead, 
and the boy, acting his part, stirred a little, moaned, 
and slept again. 

“He’ll not wake now, he’s too tired,” whispered 
the same voice, with a yawn, and Roland knew 
that so far, at least, his ruse had succeeded. 

The two men began to talk in low tones: “The 
sooner we turn him loose” — Roland recognized 
Haroun’s voice — “the sooner can he get to the 
Saleebiyin — depend upon it that’s where he was 


A BOY OF THE LOST CRUSADE 213 

bound and the more quickly can we spread the 
rumor that Khaleel is using him for a go-between 
with them. As for Ahmed, every one will believe 
that he set the boy free, by KhaleeVs orders^ to take 
his messages to the Saleebiyin.” 

“Turn him loose,” some one broke in, “and the 
truth would run loose with him and be our undo¬ 
ing. He’s sure, sooner or later, to hear of what we 
charge Khaleel with, and once it reached his ears 
he’d stop at nothing — you remember what he did 
for Saleem — even if he had to bring the Saracen 
army and the Frankish face to face to prove Sa- 
leem’s father innocent!” 

There was a grim chuckle and a pause, while 
Roland, as yet only dimly understanding this 
scheme to smirch Khaleel’s honor through him, 
strained his ears to catch every word. The second 
voice must belong, he knew, to the man with the 
snake eyes and the evil mouth. It had a sibilant 
quality that made one think uneasily of something 
that crept stealthily in slime; but, over and above 
that, was the actual pronunciation of the words. 
Where had he heard Arabic spoken like that.f^ All 
at once he remembered: Samson had, one day, 
described the Egyptian dialect, with its softened 
gutturals, and then had mimicked it, to Roland’s 
vast amusement. That was it, then; this man 
with the strange, swarthy face, this hatcher of 
plots, who now kept watch of him, was an Egyp¬ 
tian. The soft-gutturaled tones went on: 



214 A BOY OF THE LOST CRUSADE 

‘‘A blow or two to silence him is our surest plan 
— and then the old well to hold him safe. He’ll 
tell no tales there” — with a derisive laugh — 
“and meanwhile we can say that Ahmed has let 
him go to do Khaleel’s bargaining with the Salee- 
biyin. His friends will give up looking for him in 
a few days, and he’ll be forgotten — and we shall 
be free to say what we like without him to dis¬ 
agree with us! ” 

Roland shuddered. This was the reason they 
had thwarted Ahmed’s plan of sending him back 
to Samson! This was what they wanted of him: to 
use him against Khaleel! He knew now that it was 
one of these two who had identified him before the 
Saracen soldiers as “the Frangi boy who had saved 
Saleem,” with the express intention of focusing the 
suspicion of the band on his friendship for Khaleel. 

“The boy out of the way” — the hissing voice 
sank too low to be distinct; but at intervals Ro¬ 
land caught, “Once we’ve got the army against, 
Khaleel — the end of his power — and then we!^^ 

The whispers ceased, and Roland, dizzy with 
horror, tried to steady himself enough to think 
what he must do, how find a way out of this web of 
death and dishonor. His own destruction! Khaleel’s 
downthrow! Khaleel to be accused of playing the 
traitor with Saracens and Franks, of using him as 
his confederate! And Ahmed — who had suspected 
these intriguers, but not half of their evil, or he 
would never have left him to them, Roland re- 



A BOY OF THE LOST CRUSADE 215 


fleeted — he, too, must meet disaster in the cold¬ 
blooded plan. 

It came over the boy sickeningly that when his 
chance to break loose should come — and he had 
never let himself think that it would not — Haroun 
and the Egyptian would lose no time in pointing 
out Ahmed as the accomplice who had set him 
free to carry KhaleeFs traitor overtures to the 
Crusaders. Knowing this, how could he go? Yet, 
to stay meant almost certain death. But suppose 
by staying he could outwit these ruffians, some¬ 
how expose them to Ahmed and get word to 
Khaleel — for Khaleel would be here at dawn —• 
even though it meant a few hours'" delay in delivering 
his message to Kaiserieh — 

Back and forth went his mind in agonized de¬ 
bate with himself, when, all at once, there flashed 
into it something that the Chevalier had once said: 
‘‘Some day the Cross may lead where your heart 
shudders to follow. Know where you stand then, 
lad!’’ 

At the time he had wondered what the words 
meant. He knew now! 

It must be Kaiserieh first and beyond all ques¬ 
tion! For the while he must forget everything but 
his errand, fix all his energies of mind and body on 
it. But that accomplished, back here on the wings 
of the wind; back here to Ahmed and Khaleel! 

Meanwhile the night crept steadily forward, 
fewer and fewer grew the hours before dawn. For 



m . A BOY OF THE LOST CRUSADE 

some time now the two guards had said nothing. 
All at once, “See if he still sleeps soundly,” one of 
them whispered. 

Roland felt a hand laid on his shoulder, then 
the breath from the face that peered into his. 
There was a murmur of satisfaction as the man 
listened to the perfect imitation of a tired child’s 
breathing. 

“Yes; he’ll not wake!” 

“He won’t need to! He’ll never know what 
happened to him!” was the brutal rejoinder, and 
Roland felt his blood run cold. 

“No need to get rid of him till midnight or 
after,” the voice continued; “I’ll lie down for a 
little, and then we’ll make quick work of it.” 

“Ah!” Roland exulted to himself, “may all the 
Saints above send sleep upon you!” 

Presently, as he lay there, every sense taut, a 
peculiar odor filled his nostrils, an odor of animals, 
something like that of a flock of sheep, only much 
stronger, more penetrating. 

“Hm-m,” murmured the Egyptian, “a caravan 
passes!” 

At the moment the remark meant nothing to 
Roland, only that it brought no response from 
Haroun, Then a yawn, an unmistakable yawn, 
followed by a slight stir as of a body that stretched 
itself along the ground! A few moments passed 
and Roland lifted his eyelids a hair’s breadth. 
Yes! Both men had succumbed! And now — deep 


A BOY OF THE LOST CRUSADE 217 


regular breathing that grew even a trifle noisy 
with the sleepers’ complete abandon! 

“If they are ready,” thought the boy gleefully, 
“I am!” With that, he turned noiselessly on his 
back, to his right side, and again on his face. 
Another turn, another and another! Still, all quiet. 
Over and over he rolled until several yards of solid 
ground lay between him and the Saracens. 

One quick look at the sky to be sure that the 
bright northern star was over his right shoulder, 
and he was on hands and feet, sheep fashion. Abou 
Kbeer’s ways would stand him in stead here as 
they had in his first adventure! A few yards more, 
and ^ Roland straightened up to his full height. 
It was only a matter now of keeping his course 
straight west. 

On he went, sometimes at a half run, always at 
a good pace, and steadily the distance grew be¬ 
tween him and his guards. It could hardly be more 
than midnight, and a few hours would see his errand 
done. The thought sent his blood leaping. 

Two hours went by; more than halfway to the 
end, and soon he must come to the road the Chev¬ 
alier said led to the Crusader camp. Hark, though! 
What was that sound, like faint, rhythmic blows 
Instantly he had his ear to the ground. There it 
was, a soft, regular thud, thud, thud. Horses’ 
hoofs! Beyond a doubt, riders who searched for 
him; Ahmed, perhaps, or the Egyptian and Haroun. 

Forward he sped with the wildest energy he had 


218 A BOY OF THE LOST CRUSADE 


ever exerted. There was a chance that he could 
evade capture if he lay flat on the ground, for it 
was still dark. But if there were several scouring 
the country and bent on finding him — The hoofs 
again, and nearer; no denying it! A confused terror 
seized him, his whole body felt numb. 

“You mustn’t fail now, not so near the goal/^ 
he pleaded with himself. 

If only he could find a shelter of some sort, a 
bush, a tree. And then something from the depths 
of his panting, desperate seK whispered, “The 
caravan!” Ah! those loaded animals — they were 
his chance •— if he could reach them in time. 

The sounds behind him were distinct now, and 
it was clear enough that they were made by several 
horses. Suddenly the camel smell filled his nostrils 
and at almost the same instant his feet struck hard 
bare earth. The road, the blessed road, the traveled 
way that caravans must tread! But the thunder 
of hoofs close upon him! His legs seemed turned 
to wood, and his heart to a wild thing that tore at 
his breast. Would he never overtake the camels? 
Had he somehow missed them? And then all at 
once he was upon them, a dim line of the patient 
beasts that knelt for their night rest beside the 
road, their drivers on the ground near them, or 
pacing slowly up and down. 

Onto the earth Roland dropped now, and 
squirmed his way toward the quiet animals. In 
another minute he had crept alongside one of them. 


A BOY OF THE LOST CRUSADE 219 


There was a startled turn of the long neck, and a 
throaty gurgle, but, with not a second to lose, the 
boy climbed nimbly up on the great haunches and 
thrust himself in among the bales that rose on both 
sides of the humped back — safe! 

The camel no sooner felt a strange presence than, 
angry and frightened, it threw itself forward and 
began to lurch to its feet. At that signal its com¬ 
panions prepared to follow, and before the camel¬ 
eers were aware of it, the disturbance had run the 
length of the line. For a few moments a panic 
threatened, and if there is anything more to be 
dreaded than a terror-stricken caravan, neither the 
desert nor the camel driver knows it. At a bound 
the men reached their big charges, and straight at 
the rough flanks and swinging necks they drove 
with kicks and blows and curses. 

"‘Thou child of lowest Gehennim,” cried one, 
“may thy life be snapped off with thy next 
breath!” 

Then, from the rear, came sounds of an argu¬ 
ment. The hubbub of angry threats stopped as a 
voice shouted something up the line. 

“No! No!” arose from all sides. 

“What do they think,” inquired one surly driver 
— “that caravans pick up boys by the wayside for 
cargo?” 

At which Roland, motionless, scarcely breathing, 
knew they talked of him. The parley went on a 
moment, and now the brisk trot of horses came 


220 A BOY OF THE LOST CRUSADE 


nearer and nearer his hiding-place. Could they mean 
to search the caravan? He grew cold and sick at the 
thought, but the next moment his terror vanished. 

“The lad never got this far,” one of the riders 
called out, whether one of Ahmed’s men, or of the 
opposite faction, Roland never knew. 

“Back we go,” the same voice continued, “till 
we meet the others who look for him. We shall 
come on him somewhere between us.” And oflF 
they galloped with a flourish of flying hoofs. 

Cautiously Roland lifted his head to see how 
matters lay. The drivers had gone forward, and 
presently he heard an order shouted, followed by 
the gurgling protest of a camel when it is made to 
rise. The caravan was about to go on; he would 
never have a better chance; and without an 
instant’s hesitation he slid off the camel’s flanks 
just as the long neck swept angrily around in 
search of its tormentor. But if there was any 
further trouble, Roland, flying up the dark road, 
never gave it thought or heed. 

On now, straight west, with the bright star be¬ 
ginning to pale. The black of night changed to 
blurred gray; fields and orchards took faint out¬ 
lines among the shadows. And then, out of the 
dim west, the breath of the sea, the taste of salt 
on his lips — and Roland knew that his goal was at 
hand. The fork in the road, as the Chevalier had 
said, the turn to the right, and the great camp lay 
before him, astir. 


A BOY OF THE LOST CRUSADE 221 


In the half light he could see men moving about 
and hear voices. All at once his knees grew weak, 
moisture broke out over him, and a deathly de¬ 
pression seized him. It seemed scarcely worth 
his while to go farther. How differently he had 
imagined his arrival: himself triumphant, ex¬ 
hilarated, men crowding round him, the clanking 
armor, the horses gorgeously arrayed! Nothing 
seemed worth while now, nothing except to sink 
down on the earth and sleep! 

So it was a very subdued boy that walked un¬ 
steadily up to the first Crusader that he saw. 

“Sir,” he said, ‘‘will you tell me the quickest way 
to see your Commander.?” 

The man eyed him suspiciously. 

“Where did you come from so early in the day,” 
he asked, “and where did you learn Frangi, you 
young Syrian vagabond.?” 

Roland ignored the question. “I must see your 
Commander — at once.” 

Two or three bystanders heard his answer with 
frank amusement. He could have set matters right 
in a minute by mentioning his father’s name and 
Father Gaspard’s or the Chevalier’s, but to be 
trifled with by these men for whom he had taken 
such chances — no, not a word of explanation! 

“I have something to tell the Commandant that 
he must hear now.” 

“Your password, then,” was the gruff retort. 

Password! Roland wavered a little. The Cheva- 


222 A BOY OF THE LOST CRUSADE 


Her had not taught him one, and how was he to 
know terms of warfare? Then, like a Heaven-sent 
message, there rang through his tired senses the 
fine old battle-cry of the Crusaders as Father Gas- 
pard had repeated it at Bethlehem. 

“A password?” he asked. “Tell your Com¬ 
mander that I have come to him because,” he 
raised his voice a little, “because ^God wills it! 
God wills it!’'^ 

That settled matters. The men sobered instantly. 
“That’s genuine!” cried one of them. “I’ll report 
it myself,” and he ran forward. 

' A few minutes later Roland found himself on the 
outskirts of the camp, in front of a native house 
which, it appeared, was the Commander’s quarters. 

The door opened on the instant into a small 
room where three men sat at a table, two of them 
grizzled and weather-beaten, and fine enough 
fellows until one looked at the third, after which 
one had eyes for him only. Without knowing ex¬ 
actly why, one felt that he radiated a sort of shin¬ 
ing authority from his ruddy hair and beard, and 
his eyes that danced with golden lights, to the last 
inch of his burnished armor. 

He leaned toward Roland, smiling: 

“So, ‘God wills it!’ Tell me who taught you 
that and what it is that He wills!” 

At which Roland repeated what de Vaubois had 
said in the cave, as nearly as .possible in the Cru¬ 
sader’s words. 


A BOY OF THE LOST CRUSADE 223 


‘‘Again, boy, say it again.” And the three men 
drew a little more closely around him with their 
heads bent to catch every syllable. 

“Now, my boy, who are you, and how is it that 
the Chevalier sends this message by you.^” 

And Roland told that, too, beginning with the 
words he had used so often: “ I am the son of Robert 
Arnot.” 

The moment that he mentioned Father Gaspard’s 
name, the Commander sprang up. 

“Yes, yes,” he cried, “I remember now when the 
Father inquired about this Robert Arnot; some 
two years ago, wasn’t it.^” He turned to the other 
two. “The boy speaks truth — there is no doubt 
about it. Give the order to stop all preparations 
for battle.” As soon as they had gone: “You must 
forgive us,” he apologized, “for making you explain 
yourself, lad — but you look so like a native.” 

“Oh,” cried Roland, “that’s walnut juice!” 
Then, unable to conceal a moment longer his im¬ 
patience to get back to Khaleel, “I mustn’t wait 
here, sir!” he stammered. “It’s life and death — 
I mean it’s a favor that I must beg of you — or 
rather it’s —” 

Before he could explain himself to the astonished 
Commander, the door swung open for the two aides. 

“Tell us, boy,” they besought him eagerly, 
“what sign of the Saracens did you see on your 
way?” 

It occurred all at once to Roland that to answer 



m A BOY OF THE LOST CRUSADE 


their question was the shortest road to the favor 
that he must ask of them, and accordingly he told 
the story of his capture, of the plot against the 
Saracen leader, and his own final dash for Kaiserieh. 

From mere curiosity the three passed to delighted 
enthusiasm, and, in the end, to amazed silence, 
eyes staring and lips agape. 

When Roland had come to his last word, one 
of the aides brought a vigorous fist down on the 
table. “You’ve done what not a soul of us has the 
wits for,” he declared, “and some of us not the 
valor.” 

“For a knowledge of the language and the coun¬ 
try,” rejoined the other, “he’s beaten us out and 
out, and as for sheer courage —” 

“The best of it is,” broke in the ruddy-haired 
Commandant, “the lad comes honestly by that 
brave name of his!” 

Roland caught his breath in a tumult of memories 
at the dear familiarity of the words that were so 
like Robert Arnot’s fond injunction: “See that you 
bear the name worthily, little Roland.” 

The next moment his thoughts were with Khaleel. 

“The favor that I must ask, sir—” he began. 

“What you will!” the Commandant interrupted. 
“All that we could grant would leave us still in 
your debt.” 

“A horse, then,” Roland replied promptly, “to 
carry me as quickly as possible back to the Saracens, 
so that I may tell of the plot against their leader!” 


A BOY OF THE LOST CRUSADE 225 

If ever men were dumbfounded, it was these three 
who listened to the astounding proposition. 

‘‘But why risk your life to save a Saracen.?” 
they protested. 

“Because,” Roland returned with spirit, “my 
escape is sure to bring dishonor — and perhaps 
worse — to him.” 

“Send a message by some Syrian,” suggested 
one of the aides. “Or let some of us go with the 
boy,” put in the other; “for he’s taking his life in 
his hands, and that’s truth!” 

But none of these precautions would Roland 
have. He, and he alone, could prove the guilty 
and the innocent. “There’s not a moment to lose,” 
he ended anxiously. 

At that the ruddy-haired Commander was on his 
feet. “If it’s in your mind to go, go you shall.” 
And, turning to his aides, “A horse,” he ordered, 
“and food!” Then to Roland, already chafing at 
the delay to eat, “The time lost that way,” he 
laughed good-humoredly, “you’ll treble in speed, 
take the word of a soldier for it.” 

And once on his way, fed and satisfied, Roland 
found that the advice held good. 

Out on the road now, and the sun not yet risen; 
past the halting-place of the caravan, and eastward 
across the purple-dun of the plain, with the sky 
rose-red behind the Judaean highland; then day 
itself, and in its full light Roland made out the rib¬ 
bon of verdurh that traced the course of the gorge. 


226 A BOY OF THE LOST CRUSADE 


Straight toward it he rode at full speed, hardly dar¬ 
ing to think of what he should find there, or not find. 

A dark line at the edge of the green told him 
that the Saracens were still at their post. Soon he 
could distinguish figures moving about, and, drawn 
up at one side, a large body of men and horses. 
And now they saw him! He knew, from the way 
they all at once stood still, like men turned to stone. 

Without checking his speed he bore directly 
down on them so that they were forced to step 
out of his way. 

“Listen to me!’’ he cried, and the next minute 
he had dismounted and stood in the midst of them 
all. “Listen to the riddle I propose to you!” 

He paused and looked from face to face of 
his silence-stricken audience. There, Heaven be 
thanked, were Khaleel and Ahmed, untouched, 
unharmed. A great lump suddenly filled his throat, 
and he glanced away quickly from those two to 
make sure of a third. Yes, there! Lurking stealth¬ 
ily behind the others of his evil stripe, and hid¬ 
eously livid with fear! 

“Answer my riddle!” cried Roland trium¬ 
phantly. “W^ho is it among you that speaks in this 
tongue.^” And in unmistakable imitation of the 
Arabic of Egypt he repeated the words that had 
burned themselves into his memory as he lay on the 
ground in pretended sleep. 

There was a sudden confusion among the 
Saracens. Every eye was turned on the Egyptian. 


I 


A BOY OF THE LOST CRUSADE 227 


‘‘The child speaks truth! The word of Allah is 
in his mouth,” cried some. 

“He lies, he lies!” declared others; and, high 
above all, “Judgment! Judgment! I demand 
judgment!” screamed the foreign voice. 

“You shall have judgment!” There was a mo¬ 
ment’s lull, for it was the first time that Khaleel 
had uttered a word. He stood now before them 
all, grave, unperturbed, determined. 

“You shall have judgment,” he repeated. 

“That he shall!” cried a voice in the crowd, 
and, before any one realized what was happening, 
before even Khaleel could interfere, there was the 
flash of a naked blade, a horrible glimpse of two 
arms flung high above a face yellow with fright, of a 
writhing form that swayed and bent and the next 
moment lay on the ground limp and still. 

“The same judgment on his friends!” And 
there was a sound of swords drawn from their 
scabbards. 

“Back, every blade!” shouted Khaleel. He 
sprang into the midst of the mob. “Save your 
swords for the battle-field,” he went on, “and 
have done with this child’s play.” 

He glanced toward the terrified group that 
huddled around the fallen body, then he turned to 
the men near him and gave a quick order that no 
one else could hear. 

“Deliver them alive and unharmed,” he added 
as a last instruction. 


228 A BOY OF THE LOST CRUSADE 


Two soldiers lifted the dead Egyptian between 
them and disappeared down the gorge, while the 
others, headed by Ahmed, hustled the frightened 
traitors into line, tied them hand to hand, then 
mounted their horses and unceremoniously started 
their prisoners forward. For just a moment Ahmed 
halted by Roland. 

“Child,” he said, “this day has written your 
name in the heart of every true Saracen, Saleebi 
though you are!” 

As he rode away, Roland found Khaleel gazing 
down on him with a look that made word quite 
empty. 

“Twice, now, man-child,” Khaleel spoke at 
last, “you’ve saved me from the fangs of that 
viper.” 

“How do you mean, Khaleel, twice?” 

“It was the Egyptian,” the man replied gravely, 
“who betrayed Saleem to the Saleebiyin!” 

“Did you suspect him then?” Roland asked 
incredulously. And with a burst of recollection, 
“Was that what you feared when Samson asked 
you if you trusted your men, and you said your 
own men?” 

Khaleel nodded: “That was it, man-child; ever 
since, I’ve known the viper only waited to strike. 
Ahmed spoke truth,” he went on, “your name 
lives in the hearts of us all.” 

“Oh, but, Khaleel!” Roland burst out, miser¬ 
able with all that must be concealed and unspoken 


A BOY OF THE LOST CRUSADE 229 


between them, ‘‘I’m a Saleebi — you must know 
it now — a Saleebi out and out!” 

“And what else,” rejoined Khaleel in the old 
affectionate way that Roland loved, “should you 
be? What I have called you once, I call you again, 
now and always: my second son.” 

“Yet always the sword is between us!” the boy 
said sorrowfully. 

“Listen to me, son. War is a man’s business, 
and in that business we must meet as men; but 
when we are together the mention of it shall not 
pass our lips. Between us,” he ended fondly,, 
“there is more than Saleebi and Saracen.” Then, 
changing to playful challenge, “And where may 
you be bound now, man-child?” 

“To the nearest village,” declared Roland, fall¬ 
ing in with Khaleel’s humor, “to beg a bowl of 
leben, to sleep as long as I want, and then to find 
the nearest short cut to Samson!” 




CHAPTER THIRTEEN 


To save time in getting back to Samson, Roland 
decided to return his borrowed horse to the Cru¬ 
sader camp by a native boy, while he himself 
hurried on to the hut, as he had told Khaleel, by 
the most direct short cuts. For Samson he must 
see, must tell of his errand to Kaiserieh, and of his 
decision to make that errand the first step in be¬ 
coming a Saleebi in deed as he already was in 
name. 

By the time he had shared the midday meal of a 
Syrian family who were camped in their vineyard, 
and had slept for a while in the shade of a friendly 
olive tree, there were yet some hours before sunset. 
Time enough to get a good start toward home and 
Samson, he thought happily, as he struck out 
across fields and orchards. There was nothing to 
fear now, nothing to avoid. Trusted by his own 
countrymen, beloved by the Saracens — ah, but 
it was good, this friendliness with the world. This 
was a day of days, and he was king of it! 

Across the plain broke the low ridges of the 
Shephelah and already its music filled his ears; 
already, in imagination, he heard the coo of the 
wild pigeon, the drowsy hum of the bees among 
the thyme, the patter of little hoofs along the 
beaten sheep paths, and, best of all, Samson’s dear 


A BOY OF THE LOST CRUSADE 231 

familiar call to the flock, “Come, my children, 
come!” 

Suddenly across the peace of the boy’s thoughts 
broke a confused murmur that grew, even as he list¬ 
ened, into low thunder and strident din. And then 
above the crest of a hill he saw something that told 
him what made the discordant noise. It was noth¬ 
ing more than a reddish cloud, but he knew instinc¬ 
tively that it'was the dust that rose from the tram¬ 
pling hoofs of many horses, and that the distant 
uproar was the clash of sword on sword, of scim¬ 
itar on shield, of Crusader courage and Saracen 
skill. 

The next moment he was flying over the ground 
toward the low ridges, racing to keep abreast of 
the impulse which possessed him, outran him; the 
impulse to hold the standard of the Cross high 
and firm against the onslaught of the Crescent. 

With every moment the noise became more 
distinct, and unmistakably the noise of battle, 
though no action was yet visible. Just as he 
reached the rise, a group of villagers hurried out 
of a vineyard, terror-stricken and breathless with 
running. 

“ If we only get out of it alive! ” a woman panted, 
as she shifted a baby from one arm to the other. 
Then, as her eye lighted on Roland, “Keep away!” 
she warned in a frightened voice, “It’s war — the 
Saleebiyin and the Saracens.” But, without heed¬ 
ing her, the boy sprang forward up the slope, tak- 


232 A BOY OF THE LOST CRUSADE 


ing the gullies at a leap, steadying himself by a 
tuft of grass or a bush or whatever came to hand, 
until at last he was out on top. 

The next minute he was looking onto the level 
ground below him, into the seething fury of battle 
itself. What he saw appeared at first to be a maze, 
gorgeous yet terrible, of dazzling figures that 
shifted and mingled, tore apart, and melted to¬ 
gether again. Everywhere there were plunging 
horses and spears and lances. As his eyes grew 
accustomed to the sight, he began to pick out the 
turbans of the Saracens from the gleaming armor 
and the red crosses of the Franks. This, he said to 
himself, was one of those skirmishes by which, the 
Chevalier had said, the Crusaders would exhaust 
the enemy. 

It was quite clear that each force was trying for 
possession of that part of the plain that lay at the 
foot of the ridge. Every once in a while the 
Saracens would scatter and appear to withdraw, 
then with incredible swiftness they would gather 
together and charge into their opponents. But 
each time the Crusaders met them like a wall of 
rock; no matter how skillful the maneuver nor 
from what angle it was launched, they were always 
magnificently ready. 

The fighting redoubled its fury. Again and again 
the Crescent hurled its arrow-like assaults, but, as 
often, the Cross, unharmed and undaunted, held 
firm, with not an inch of ground lost, thank God! 



THE FIGHTING REDOUBLED ITS FURY 






A BOY OF THE LOST CRUSADE 233 


All at once a disturbance became apparent in 
the Frankish ranks, as if the unity of purpose 
that held them as one man had given way. There 
was a moment of confusion, of wild hesitation, 
while they appeared to waver between rally and 
retreat. 

“The Frangi leader has fallen!” exclaimed a 
voice in Arabic, and Roland started out of his 
absorption to find just behind him no other than 
his old playfellow, Rasheed. 

“You, Rasheed!” Then, “How long has this 
been going on.^^” pointing to the plain below. 

“Not long,” replied Rasheed. “We were work¬ 
ing in the vineyards — the rest ran away, but I 
came up here to watch. Look” — he broke off 
excitedly — “the Frangi have lost their leader. 
They are frightened! ” 

“The Frangi afraid!” But, even as Roland 
made the passionate denial, it died on his lips, for 
the Saracens, with the advantage now with them, 
were pressing the disordered Franks back in hope¬ 
less turmoil. The next moment the air was rent 
with a cry that turned him to stone, the tragic 
Crusader cry of acknowledged loss and defeat: 

“Sauve qui pent! Sauve qui pent!” 

“What is it they say.f^” inquired Rasheed. 

“That — that — they need help,” Roland stam¬ 
mered with difficulty. 

At the sound of his own words something inside 
him broke loose, something that sent him plunging 


234 A BOY OF THE LOST CRUSADE 


down the hillside. “I’m coming!” he cried, quite 
unconscious that he spoke aloud. “Coming!” 

“Are you mad.^^” shouted Rasheed’s voice in his 
ear. “ It’s death down there! ” 

But Roland had already seen something in that 
tortured maze below that brought him to a stand¬ 
still of his own accord. Against all the odds of 
panic within their own ranks and increasingly 
furious attacks by the enemy, the Franks were 
rallying; slowly, painfully, but gallantly rallying! 
Afraid to believe his own eyes, he watched them 
breathlessly. There was no mistake about it! 

And once the tide had turned, they recovered 
themselves with a rapidity that plainly nonplused 
their foes. Now again they stood together as one 
man, the situation theirs and victory won, when, 
with a lightning-like maneuver, as determined as 
it was swift, the entire Frankish body wheeled and 
raced westward. Instantly the Saracens were after 
them in hot pursuit, and high above the din of men 
and horses broke the fierce battle-cry of Mo¬ 
hammed’s followers: 

“ Ed-deen! Ed-deen! ” ^ 

Spellbound, Roland stared after the whirlwind 
fiight until it was hidden by a wooded spur. 

What did it mean? he asked himelf. Not defeat 
or retreat, at any rate, as any one would agree who 
had watched that determined movement of the 
Crusaders. 


1 The Faith! The Faith! 


A BOY OF THE LOST CRUSADE 235 


‘‘They’re gone!” Rasheed exclaimed as if he 
were relieved. “Come, let’s take a short cut over 
that” — he waved a hand toward the deserted 
battle-field below them. “It’s safe, now,” he re¬ 
marked significantly. 

Roland turned quickly to follow the gesture. This 
part of battle he had never thought of, this terrible 
after part, when the blaze of armor and the gleam of 
swords had passed, and there was left only a desola¬ 
tion of trampled earth, a wreck of maimed bodies. 

“Rasheed!” he cried, “we must go to them—• 
help them!” 

“They won’t need help long,” protested Ra¬ 
sheed; but he nevertheless followed Roland who 
had started ahead down the hillside. 

The fighting had been so furious that its victims 
who still lived were mercifully few in number, and 
those, as Rasheed had observed, wouldn’t long 
need help. For the first moment that Roland looked 
down on the ghastly faces and bodies, he wanted 
to run away, to shut out forever from his eyes and 
ears this welter of horror. And then, as he saw one 
poor creature fling up a maimed arm in mortal 
anguish, an agony of pity surged over him and he 
sprang to answer the dumb appeal. 

“Water!” he cried to Rasheed. “That’s the 
first thing! Haven’t you a water skin in the vine¬ 
yard.?^” 

“Two!” said Rasheed, responding to his mood, 
“and the spring is near.” 


236 A BOY OF THE LOST CRUSADE 

But it was quite clear that he shrank from the 
sight of pain, so, while he fetched and carried water, 
Roland held the skin bottle for those who could 
drink, or bathed the lips and faces of those who 
lay unconscious and moaning. 

Once, as he was trying to ease a Crusader whom 
he found face down, the man smiled in a puzzled 
way. 

“Is it my little Jean,” he whispered, “or do I 
dream — or have I—” His voice trailed off into 
an indistinct babble. 

“Ah, he thinks he is at home,” Roland said to 
himself; “perhaps in a garden like ours and play¬ 
ing with his little Jean. See,” he said, aloud, “I’ll 
move you like this, very gently,” lifting the head 
and propping it on his knee, “so you’ll be easier.” 

The soldier lay still, looking oflF with unseeing 
eyes. 

“Ah, it is a beautiful dream,” he sighed con¬ 
tentedly; and in a few moments, “Good-night, 
little one.” 

And when Roland laid the quiet body down, the 
man’s face was peaceful and smiling, as if, indeed, 
he played with his little Jean in some far-away 
beautiful garden. 

“If they all could die as happily,” the boy 
thought to himself, “or if only Samson were here 
to help and we could get as much water as they 
wanted.” Then, as a shriek of pain rang out near 
him, “Quick, Rasheed, over here!” he called. 


A BOY OF THE LOST CRUSADE 237 

The next moment he bent over a young Saracen 
who had been struck down where the battle had 
been hottest. All around him were bodies of men 
and of horses, just as they had fallen, and directly 
across him lay a rigid figure clad from head to foot 
in the armor of France. The lad was calling wildly 
on Allah to end his suffering. 

“Wait a little,” Roland said, as if he were hu¬ 
moring a sick child, “drink some water first. Now 

— where is the pain?” 

“My leg — something is pressing in to it. O 
Allah,” he groaned, “spare me a little of this!” 

“We can lift that, can’t we?” Roland signed to 
Rasheed, and together they moved the armored 
figure that lay across the Saracen. 

All at once Rasheed caught Roland by the sleeve. 

“He isn’t dead,” he whispered, “that Saleebi — 
look!” 

As Rasheed spK)ke, Roland saw a slight move¬ 
ment of the helmet-covered head. In a minute he 
had raised the visor, but at the first sight of the face 
beneath it he started back with a cry of amazement. 
The shock of thick gray hair, the level black brows 

— he knew them the moment they were uncovered. 
The man was no other than the General from 
whom he had taken Saleem! He turned quickly to 
Rasheed, “Go on to the others with one bottle, 
and leave me one.” Then, as the lad eyed him 
curiously, “I know the Saleebi — I must stay with 
him,” he said. 



m A BOY OF THE LOST CRUSADE 

He dropped on his knees beside the motionless 
body and laid his girdle, soaked with water, on the 
bloodless face. Again and again he did this, and at 
last the eyelids fluttered faintly and opened. At 
first the eyes stared at him, blank and dull; then a 
bewildered expression came into them, and, as the 
boy watched breathlessly, they suddenly flashed 
into recognition, amused recognition. 

“So!’’ — with a quizzical little smile, “you still 
have your notions about helping people in trouble! ” 

“Oh, sir, I wish with my whole heart it might 
have been in a happier way!” and Roland held 
the skin to the man’s lips. “Now, if I could find 
your wound, perhaps I could ease you.” 

The General touched his left side: “Here — but 
best leave it alone,” with a smothered cry. He lay 
for a while with closed eyes, and when he opened 
them he looked at Roland as if he were trying to 
remember something. 

“I'here is something I must tell you” — a long 
pause — “something you want to know very much 
— but I can’t remember — I can’t—” a spasm of 
pain seized him, and he lay in its grip, half con¬ 
scious. 

What did he mean, Roland asked himself over 
and again: “Something you want to know.” Could 
it be the thing he wanted most of all to know — 
he hardly dared to put the thought into words — 
that his father — 

“Look at the sun,” Rasheed broke in on him 


A BOY OF THE LOST CRUSADE 239 

impatiently; “it’s almost set. We can’t stay here 
any longer if I’m to get home to-night — and 
they’re expecting me.” 

“Some one is sure to pass by here,” Roland re¬ 
minded him, “who will take word back that you’re 
safe.” 

Rasheed shook his head. “Didn’t you see the 
people running away? No, no one will come near 
this place, even if the vineyards are never picked!” 

“Oh, Rasheed, don’t go!” he exclaimed; “he 
can’t live long — you see that for yourself — we 
must do what we can for him.” 

So at last the Syrian boy yielded, wrapped him¬ 
self in his abba and sat down with Roland to wait 
for whatever was to come. 

Presently the General stirred. “Did you see the 
skirmish? Were we defeated or did my ruse go 
through? ” 

“The Crusaders fought gallantly,” Roland as¬ 
sured him, “but the ruse, you say, sir — ?” 

“WTien I could keep up no longer, I told young 
Rohan to make one more stand and then instantly 
to turn and flee.” 

“Yes!” cried Roland, “I saw that, and I saw 
the Saracens follow, and I wondered —” 

There was a triumphant laugh. “It was a trap, 
boy, to lure the Saracens on to where another band 
of us waited! I doubt,” with grim signiflcance, “if 
many of the infidels return from that pursuit!” 

What if, the boy thought with a sudden pang, 



240 A BOY OF THE LOST CRUSADE 


Khaleel or Ahmed were among those who would 
not return! It was a heartrending business, this 
having friends on both sides. 

‘‘How did you happen along here?” the Cru¬ 
sader inquired presently. “Was the Jewish shep¬ 
herd with you?” 

Whereupon Roland explained his presence and 
the errand on which he had been. 

“Fou took the word? You?” The General 
reached up and drew the boy down to him. 
“There!” he said, “and there, and there!” And 
he kissed him on the forehead and on each cheek, 
at which Roland knew that the old score between 
them was forever wiped out. With sudden resolu¬ 
tion he bent close to the wounded man. 

“Sir,” he said gently, “you spoke of something 
you wished to say to me, something you said I 
ought to know —” 

“To be sure!” the General broke in. “It all 
comes to me again. I remember, then directly I 
forget; but now, while my head is clear” — his 
voice took on its accustomed authority — “listen 
to what I tell you.” 

Between pauses for breath, he said that some 
months ago he had gone into northern Syria, and 
there had run across a terribly crippled Crusader 
who was, in fact, dying. 

“I asked him how he had been so severely hurt,” 
the General continued. “In a battle near Acre, he 
told me. Then he went on to say that he and his 



A BOY OF THE LOST CRUSADE 241 


comrade were among the few Franks to escape 
alive; at least, he added, ‘7 didnH see him die!^ 
His peculiar emphasis on the last words made me 
ask him what he meant. As nearly as I can re¬ 
member this is what he said: 

‘“After the battle some of the Franks tried to 
rescue their wounded. They were just about to 
lift me up when I heard one of them exclaim, 
“Look at this poor fellow! We can never carry 
him away in such shape — he’s cut to pieces and 
soaked with blood!” “Well,” another one an¬ 
swered, “here’s a Saracen who has gone to Para¬ 
dise. He’ll be none the worse if we take his clothes 
for a soldier of France!”’ 

“Although he was in terrible pain, the crippled 
soldier said that the men’s talk aroused his curiosity 
and he turned enough to see what they were doing: 

“‘They had wrapped the wounded man in the 
Saracen’s clothes and were binding up his head in 
the turban, when they happened to move aside so 
that I looked full into his face. I remember I was 
so startled that I cried out — for it was no other 
than my comrade! Then before any one had a 
chance to say another word, we heard the Saracen 
cry, “Ed-deen! Ed-deen!” and those demons of 
infidels were upon us with fresh forces. Our men 
barely succeeded in escaping with a few of us 
wounded ones, and in the panic and the rush,’ the 
cripple concluded, ‘my dear comrade was left 
behind! ’ 


242 A BOY OF THE LOST CRUSADE 


“The poor fellow’s grief was so evident,” the 
General said, “that I asked him his friend’s name.” 

Roland leaned down, scarcely breathing, to hear 
what something told him was coming. 

“He replied,” the General continued, “that it 
was Robert Arnot!” 

Roland bent his head, unable at first to speak. 
Then, “Robert Arnot,” he whispered, “ my father! ” 

“I’m sure of it, though at first I couldn’t place 
the name. I kept repeating it to myself, ‘Robert 
Arnot, Robert Arnot’ — where had I heard it? 
And then it came to me all at once, how you told 
me you had come to Palestine to find your father, 
Robert Arnot.” 

The General was plainly exhausted and lay 
silent for some time. Roland’s thoughts raced 
wildly through his head. His strong, laughing 
young father wounded to the death, left either to a 
lingering agony or to the mercy of the enemy! At 
best, what could one hope? He clutched his throat 
to keep down the convulsive choking that would 
come. 

As if the General read his thoughts, he said, after 
a while: 

“Pin your hope to this, lad: no one has seen him 
die!” He turned his gaze full on the boy. “You’ve 
more than made good your promise to me, and 
you’ve proved yourself, body and soul, a Crusader. 
I — salute — you — Comrade! ” 

Presently his lips moved, and Roland, bending 



A BOY OF THE LOST CRUSADE 243 

over him, heard him whisper faintly, ""No one has 
seen him die,'' Almost instantly the body relaxed 
like a tired child’s; there was a long sigh, then un¬ 
broken quiet, and the General, like the father of 
little Jean, slept at last. 

What should be done now.?^ the boy wondered. 
There was a bare chance that the Crusaders might 
return to bury their leader. Should he wait for 
them.^ No! he suddenly decided. He himself would 
serve his friend to the end. The General should 
take his last rest in a cave of the Shephelah as many 
another had done before him; not, indeed, men 
of the same blood, Roland reflected, but com¬ 
rades, nevertheless, in the great brotherhood of 
stout hearts and noble deeds. 

So, in the first gray light of dawn, he told 
Rasheed his plan: ‘‘While I look for a place near 
by,” he concluded, “you stay here and watch.” 

Together they laid the General in the cave that 
Roland chose, and then they closed it with rocks. 
Finally, above the low entrance, Roland cut the 
Crusader Cross, and into its four deep gashes he 
wedged small stones that were sure to set, and so 
preserve the sign. 

It came to him that perhaps there should be 
some word to show the soldier’s rank; and then, 
as he stepped back to survey the work, what more 
could there be.^ he asked himself. It was the emblem 
of the Cause to which the Crusader had given his 
life. The Cross, known alike to Saracen and Frank! 


244 A BOY OF THE LOST CRUSADE 


Just then, over the Judaean hills flamed the 
crimson and gold of sunrise. With a start, Roland 
remembered that it was two days past the time 
that he had told Samson to watch for him. 


CHAPTER FOURTEEN 


Once started for the hut, nothing should delay 
him, Roland told himself, except a moment’s stop 
at the rose-hedge that by now was so familiar to 
him. For nothing and no one would he pass that 
by. It seemed to him, as he laid hands to the satin 
petals, that he heard his father’s voice, felt his 
mother’s breath on his cheek. Then, one of the 
half-blown buds in his girdle, and he was off again, 
over the hills, to Samson and the sheep. 

It was an affectionate dispute afterward, as to 
which saw the other first. 

“As if,” Roland contended, “I didn’t see you 
the minute I came out of the olive grove!” 

“As if,” retorted Samson, “I hadn’t watched 
for you from the hour you went away, and didn’t 
see you while you were yet among the trees! ” All 
at once he held Roland off at arm’s length. “ Some¬ 
thing has happened to change the boy to a man,” 
he said finally. 

“Something has happened, Samson — every¬ 
thing in the world, almost!’ 

And, beginning with the secret meeting in the 
cave, Roland gave Samson the history of his ad¬ 
ventures. It was the General’s story, of course, 
that stirred them most, the boy in the telling and 
the man in the hearing of it. 


246 A BOY OF THE LOST CRUSADE 


“Do you think, Samson, that there is any hope 
that my father lived?” 

“The message was of him living^ not dead,” 
Samson declared, “and this” — he touched the 
rose in Roland’s girdle — “what is it if not an 
omen of life?” 

“That’s what the General said,” Roland reflected 
aloud — “‘No one has seen him die.’ Yet, if he 
lives, Samson, how is it that none of us can find 
him?” 

“Wherever he is, little brother, be sure that only 
by word of mouth shall we hear of him or he of us,” 
Samson said decisively. “We must keep on telling 
of him, asking for him — and never a breath of 
giving up hope!” 

“But whatever comes,” Roland said finally, “I 
must be what my father would have me!” 

Samson glanced at him as if he knew what was 
coming and dreaded to hear it, but Roland went 
on quickly: 

“I can’t help but love this — the Shephelah, 
and the sheep! Sometimes it seems as if there 
couldn’t be a happier life than tending them. But 
I mustn’t stay, Samson! No,” he said slowly, “I 
must go, and I want to go, to the service of the 
Saleebi wars.” 

“I have always known that this would come —■ 
but not so soon! ” Samson said with a look of desola¬ 
tion that made Roland turn away. 

“But you’re right, little brother,” he went on 


A BOY OF THE LOST CRUSADE 247 

steadily; ‘‘we can’t help but heed this call from 
our own blood. You see how it is — you follow the 
sword, I my sheep.” 

“It will be hard to be on the other side from 
Khaleel, and hardest of all to leave the Shephelah 
— and — you.” 

The last words were hardly audible, but Samson 
knew all that was in the boy’s heart. Ah, blessedly 
understanding Samson, who spared one the need of 
speech! 

“When will you go, little brother.^” he asked at 
last, very gently. 

“Soon, Samson. Only I should like a few more 
days to look at everything all over again — and 
to play sheep with Abou!” 

“There is another besides Abou Kbeer who is 
anxious to see you — Khaleel! Yes,” in answer 
to Roland’s cry of delight, “he was here last night, 
and he told me he should come every day until you 
were back here safely. If I’m not mistaken, you’ll 
see him before morning!” 

True to the prediction, Khaleel appeared that 
very evening just as the sheep were driven into the 
fold. 

“Allah be praised!” he called out in a tone of 
relief as the boy ran to him. 

“I thought I should find you here before this” —- 
his only reference to their last meeting. “Have 
you been safe and well, man-child.^” he inquired 
anxiously. 


248 A BOY OF THE LOST CRUSADE 


‘‘Safe and well,” Roland assured him. “As if 
you hadn’t enough to look after, without adding 
me!” he protested affectionately. 

“If a hair of Saleem’s head were in danger would 
there be peace or rest for me?” Khaleel asked him. 
“And what is in my heart for him is there for you.” 

He threw the reins over II Howa’s neck and sat 
down by Samson, while Roland stretched himself 
on the ground near them. It was on the tip of his 
tongue to ask Khaleel what was happening down 
on the plain, but he caught himself up with their 
pact still in his ears: “When we are together, the 
mention of war shall not pass our lips.” He would 
know for himself soon now, he reflected, how mat¬ 
ters stood, and for this little while it was good to 
be here with these two best beloved, good to for¬ 
get, for a few hours, that the whole countryside 
smouldered with war and waited only for a signal 
to burst into flame. 

Half absently he felt in his girdle for the rose, 
faded now, but still sweet, and began to unfold the 
petals as if he searched tenderly for its heart. Sam¬ 
son recognized his^enjoyment of the flower as a 
sign of his fullness of content, and watched him with 
smiling, affectionate eyes, when a startled move¬ 
ment from Khaleel arrested his attention. 

Oblivious of everything but Roland, the Saracen 
was leaning forward in an attitude of suppressed 
excitement, his lips parted, his eyes devouring the 
boy. After some moments he asked breathlessly: 


A BOY OF THE LOST CRUSADE 


249 


‘‘What do you search for?” 

Roland made no answer at first. “It’s just 
a habit, Khaleel,” he said at last, laughing a 
little. “I used to see my father turn back the 
petals so.” 

Khaleel smothered a low cry, but Roland, gazing 
into the rose, paid no heed. 

“And now,” he went on, “I do it when I think 
of our garden at home — of my mother — and my 
father.” 

The next moment he was questioning Samson 
with his eyes. “I’m going to tell Khaleel what the 
General said!” he declared finally. 

All through the story Khaleel listened with the 
rapt concentration on Roland that had arrested 
Samson’s notice. 

“We must spread this far and wide and up and 
down,” observed Samson at the end. 

Khaleel assented absently, as if he were turning 
something over in his mind. At last he stood up, 
as if he had made a decision. 

“Man-child,” he said abruptly, “you asked me 
once about the great castle of Kaukab-il-howa; 
what do you say to making an excursion to it, you 
and Samson, and seeing it for yourself? — And if 
I should be there to show it to you!” 

Roland had sprung up at the name of the Cru¬ 
sader fortress, his imagination on fire in a moment. 
Kaukab-il-howa! Romantic proof of Crusader 
courage and skill, that held its head so high and 


250 A BOY OF THE LOST CRUSADE 


brave among the clouds and winds that far and 
wide men called it Star-of-the-Wind. 

, “Shall we, Samson?” he cried. 

But Samson was already at the heart of the 
matter: “Just what I’ve always wanted, little 
brother! And I can show you my country on the 
way up there — and my city, Jerusalem! We’ll 
make a holiday of it!” 

“A holiday!” The word struck accusingly across 
Roland’s high spirits. What had he to do with hol¬ 
idays, and the Crusader banners already beckon¬ 
ing him? The next moment Samson’s keen eyes had 
fathomed his distress and were signaling, “Just 
these few days together, little brother!” 

And so the matter was settled. 

“But the sheep, Samson?” Roland asked anx¬ 
iously. “Who will take care of them?” 

“Any one of three shepherds that I know,” 
Samson replied promptly. “We’ll be off day after 
to-morrow!” 

Khaleel caught him up on the instant. “And 
you will take perhaps eight days to it? Good! Ten 
days from now, at Kaukab-il-howa — the three of 
us.” He spoke to Samson, but it was Roland’s face 
that he studied with eyes that had never before 
been so blackly luminous, so bafflingly inscrutable. 

Samson nodded: “Ten days, Khaleel, yes; at 
Kaukab-il-howa.” 


CHAPTER FIFTEEN 


‘‘Now!’’ Samson halted, a hand on Roland’s 
shoulder. “Look your first on Jerusalem!” 

They had chosen their own paths from the 
Shephelah to Judaea, and now, in the early fore¬ 
noon, they struck into the highway alive, its dusty 
length, with the traffic of a Syrian road; peddlers 
afoot, richly dressed men on horseback, fellaheen ^ 
with jars of water or baskets of fruit; camels, 
mules, a flock of sheep, and now and then a donkey 
whipped up to a quicker pace by the boy that ran 
at its side. 

Jerusalem! 

Roland thrilled to the word: the dream of the 
Children Crusaders, the goal of every soldier of the 
Cross, and the throbbing heart of the Crusades 
themselves! Then, as he followed Samson’s point¬ 
ing finger, he saw, at the top of a rugged slope that 
rose from deep surrounding valleys, a length of gray 
wall, with a glimpse of roofs beyond to tell of the 
city it circled. He looked at Samson to be sure that 
he had understood him: could this somber fortress 
be Jerusalem, that in his thoughts had towered joy¬ 
ous and golden to the very skies 

“But the walls, Samson” — he ventured at last 

^ Peasants. 


252 A BOY OF THE LOST CRUSADE 


— ‘‘they look like a prison! I should feel shut in 
by them.” 

“Not when you’re used to them,” Samson re¬ 
joined, “nor when you know how they’ve stood 
between Jerusalem and her enemies always, from 
her first days; razed to the ground, to be sure, more 
than once by destroying armies, but just as surely 
built again, and, in the long run, of course, a pro¬ 
tection.” 

Moreover, he assured Roland, the gateways in 
them, half a dozen or so, made it an easy matter 
to enter or leave the city at will, north, south, east, 
or west. 

It was from the western entrance, the Bab-il- 
Khaleel, that the stream of people on the road had 
come, and through which, in fact, they themselves 
would pass. Presently they were in the shadow of 
the gray walls, past the great gate, then in the square 
beyond, and engulfed at once in the most amazing 
medley of people, of animals, of colors. 

“Wait a moment,” Roland urged breathlessly, 
“Let’s look at them — where do they all come 
from, Samson?” 

“See,” laughed Samson, “there are Saracens — 
they’re no strangers to you! And that tall fellow 
is a Bedouin, from the desert. He’s a Circassian, 
that fair-faced youth, from the north; but as for 
that one” — he hesitated, his eyes on a man in a 
flowing white robe — “what do you call him?” 
he inquired of a bystander. 



A BOY OF THE LOST CRUSADE 253 


‘‘A Greek,” was the reply with a gesture to the 
west; “from across the Great Sea.” 

“The north, the desert, the sea!” Roland re¬ 
peated wonderingly. And, as he gazed at the be¬ 
wildering variety of nationalities and of types, of 
costumes and of colors, “The whole world comes 
here,” he cried, “every one, Samson!” 

“Almost — yes.” 

There was a reluctance in the grave assent that 
turned Roland suddenly thoughtful: this Jerusalem 
was the city of Samson’s nation, he reflected, with 
a sudden pang. Yet here, where Greek and Bedouin 
and Saracen and many others met and mingled, 
there was no room for the ancient owners and 
rulers of the land. At that Roland’s heart leaped 
to his own countrymen, who, not so long ago, 
had held Jerusalem. For them, as for Samson’s 
people, there was no place here. Unconsciously 
he made a restless movement that caught Sam¬ 
son’s eye. 

“Come, little brother, let’s be off! Don’t let 
them disturb you,” he smiled over his shoulder, as 
he pushed his way through the crowded square, 
“and don’t let them separate us.” 

But, in spite of the warning, the boy, fresh from 
the quiet of the pastures, gave way instinctively 
every time he was jostled. It was not only people 
for whom he must step aside, but quite as often for 
a flock of shiny black goats, or a long string of 
camels which mingled with the throngs in the most 


254 A BOY OF THE LOST CRUSADE 

matter-of-fact way and always managed to occupy 
the middle of the thoroughfare. 

Buying and selling! Selling and buying! That 
seemed to be the main business of every one, from 
the vendor of sweetmeats who thrust his wares in 
the faces of the passers-by, to the peasant driving 
his sheep to the slaughter-house. A sudden revolt 
for the elbowing, pushing crowds and their barter 
swept over Roland. It was all so noisy, so cramped, 
and so old! Somehow one felt that those narrow, 
gloomy streets had always been there, and the 
people, and the animals, and the bargaining, and 
the jingling of coin. 

“Let’s get away, Samson,” he urged, “where 
there’s real air to breathe!” 

“So we will, little brothel, but, first, this way: 
there’s something I want to show you.” 

More dingy streets that sometimes dipped down 
slippery steps; and squalid alleys and low, vaulted 
passages, but, at last, the great pillared gateway 
of the northern wall, the beautiful Bab-il-Amood.^ 

Samson cast a quick glance about, and, having 
found what he wanted, beckoned Roland over to 
an outside stairway that led them to a flat roof. 
Jerusalem lay beneath them, a medley of crowded 
houses, of adjoining walls, of domes, large and small. 

Presently Roland’s eyes were caught by a glint 
of color on the edge of the somber town, a dome 
quite different from any other, that rose from the 
^ The Damascus Gate; literally, Gate of the Columns. 


A BOY OF THE LOST CRUSADE 255 


space around it, an exquisite bubble of magically 
blended grace and strength. It was as if the stern 
old city had smiled at him through her gloom and 
offered, as recompense, this bit of loveliness. 

“What is it, Samson.^” he cried out delightedly. 

Samson smiled, pleased with the boy’s pleasure. 

“The Dome of the Rock, the Saracens’ place of 
worship,” he replied thoughtfully, “and beautiful 
as one could wish if — if one could forget what was 
there before it, lifetime upon lifetime before!” 

Roland recognized the look that came into Sam¬ 
son’s eyes when he spoke of his people. 

“In place of that” — there was a sweeping 
gesture to include the Dome and the space around 
it — “the Temple! Our Temple of Jehovah!” 

It was the solemn voice, as much as the words, 
that gave Roland the feeling that Samson was 
looking far back into the dim ages, and out of them 
was calling to life a long-dead past. 

“There were wide courts where the people might 
worship,” he went on, “and altars for their sacri¬ 
fices, and columns of marble and of brass. There 
was gold and silver everywhere, curtains of scarlet 
and purple, and precious woods and metals of the 
most perfect workmanship. And in the midst of all 
this splendor, the priests in their rich robes, the 
music of many instruments, the people awed and 
reverent in the great courts; and at last, a fragrant 
cloud of incense rising heavenward in token of the 
prayers they sent up to Jehovah. 


256 A BOY OF THE LOST CRUSADE 


As Samson spoke, he seemed to Roland to be 
lifted away from the present to that far-away time 
of which he spoke, to take on, unconsciously, the 
lofty spirit and the noble dignity of a great race 
singled out and set apart from all others. 

Presently he said, “I brought you here, little 
brother, as my father brought me, to tell you what 
he told me when I was half as high as you!’’ 

“But Samson, the Temple—Roland’s eyes 
scanned the distant Dome and then sought Sam¬ 
son’s for the answer to his unfinished question. 

Samson nodded understandingly, and almost 
wearily, the boy thought. 

“Laid waste to the very ground,” he answered 
slowly, as if the words came hard, “ torn stone from 
stone by a foreign enemy, lost to us — forever 
lost. Afterward, long afterward, the Saracens built 
their Dome over the ruins.” 

A hundred other questions sprang to Roland’s 
mind, but he only drew close to the silent figure and 
laid hold of the rough abba sleeve. 

“Let’s go, Samson — out to the good bare earth 
and the clean smell of the air!” 

Samson turned instantly with his old smile: 
“Streets and people are a poor exchange for our 
hills and the sheep! ” 

“No exchange at all, Samson. Why, there isn’t 
a single person in all these crowds that compares 
with Abou Kbeer!” 

As they made their way through the Bab-il- 




A BOY OF THE LOST CRUSADE 257 

Amood and struck out to the north of the city, 
Roland noticed that a sultry mist had clouded the 
sun, and cast a gloom over everything. Even Sam¬ 
son seemed possessed by the general dejection, and 
strode along wrapped in an abstraction that was 
as gray as the day. 

“It’s always so when I come to Jerusalem,” he 
brought out at last; “it’s so sad, so weary —” 

“Did you feel that, too?” Roland broke in 
sympathetically. 

“Who could help it?” with a tragic gesture. 
“Yes, she is old and weary — why not? So many 
times her enemies have swept upon her, from north 
and south and east and west, fallen on her, torn at 
her like wild beasts! Ah,” he went on, in an 
anguished voice that made Roland long to cry out 
some word of comfort, “how can she be anything 
but old and sad? Starved by famine over and 
again, bleeding of her wounds, all but dying, not 
once, but many times! Perhaps,” more calmly, 
“it was to prove that only Jehovah’s city could 
bear such blows and still live. I think that was 
what my mother had in mind when she said, one 
day after she had told me one of our stories, ‘Some 
day Jerusalem will be what its name means, the 
City of Peace.’” After awhile he added,quietly, 
“I should like you to know that story, little 
brother.” To which Roland, who knew Samson’s 
mood of wanting to talk, uninterrupted, about his 
his people, replied only by moving nearer to him. 


258 A BOY OF THE LOST CRUSADE 


“Down there,” Samson began at once, pointing 
to the east, “on the shores of the Bahr Lht,^ is 
where it happened.” 

“A foreign army had attacked Jerusalem, and, 
after they had starved it out, they ended by de¬ 
stroying it. Somehow or other a band of our people, 
men, women, and children, escaped, made their way 
over a savage wilderness and took refuge on a great 
rock, the Rock of Masada, that juts into the Bahr 
Ltit. 

“If you could see that wilderness of death 
through which they had to pass,” Samson in¬ 
terrupted himself, “ and Masada itself, so steep and 
pitiless that from just one side can it be climbed, 
and then only by a goat path! 

“Well, they held out for some time in spite of the 
enemy who followed and laid siege to them even 
there. They must have known what the end would 
be, and when it came, at last, they never quailed. 

“There was only one way by which they could 
escape surrender and keep their liberty, and that 
way they took.” 

Samson paused to gaze somberly off to the east. 

“Without fear or hesitation they chose that 
way,” he repeated. “Each man agreed first to kill 
his own wife and children.” 

“Samson!” Roland cried out in incredulous 
horror; “not that!” 

“Would the enemy have done it more kindly?” 

^ The Dead Sea. 


A BOY OF THE LOST CRUSADE 259 


Samson asked grimly. “When that was accom¬ 
plished,” he continued, “they chose ten others to 
make way with the rest, and then one of the ten, by 
agreement, put his nine companions to the sword, 
and after that, himself. And that,” he ended, “is 
my people’s Last Story.” 

“A glorious one, Samson!” Roland managed to 
get out as he fought down a choking impulse to 
cry out in wild protest. 

Samson assented silently and they walked on, 
each with his thoughts on the intrepid little band 
and its ageless victory. 

“See,” said Samson, all at once coming out of 
his reverie, “the sun!” The fog had lightened to 
thin floating haze, and through it Roland made 
out patches of blue sky. Involuntarily they turned 
to look behind them, and the next moment they 
had forgotten everything but the glory that filled 
their eyes. 

The clouds had parted about Jerusalem, and, 
full in the sunlight, it hung like a jewel between 
seas of amethyst and pearl. Jerusalem, old and 
gray and weary, had passed away, and in its stead 
was a city, young and beautiful, her wounds healed, 
her troubles soothed, the City of Peace. 

“Jerusalem as she will be!” Roland heard Sam¬ 
son whisper to himself, and then, without knowing 
why, he found himself thinking of a day when he 
was a little fellow and had somehow hurt himself. 
His mother had knelt beside him and comforted 


260 A BOY OF THE LOST CRUSADE 


him; and after a while she had dried his eyes and 
said, “Now, we’ll wipe the tears away!” Ah, he 
knew now why he had remembered this. Because 
it was as if a great and loving Someone had wiped 
away the tears of Jerusalem, and gently calmed her 
grief. 

After a while, as they were walking on, Roland 
asked Samson what he wanted most for Jerusalem. 

“Best of all,” he replied, “I’d like her to be just 
what she is named, the City of Peace, where every 
one might worship and meditate freely; where 
differences should be laid aside; where scholars and 
sages would come, and pilgrims and peasants!” 

A city of scholars and worshipers! That seemed 
a splendid thought to Roland, and it deepened into 
another: peace must come at last to all of Syria; 
and her real life, the life of the vineyards and 
pastures and harvest fields that flowed on strong 
and sweet under the surface-turmoil, would in the 
end triumph over war and famine. 

And if for a while his part must be war, it was a 
war to bring Syria a truer peace, to make her the 
crown of all Christendom, a Holy Land, indeed. 

At that his thoughts went to the Crusader armies. 
These few days with Samson over, and not an hour 
should pass before he was on his way to them. If 
they still waited their chance to surprise the enemy, 
well and good; if he should find the plains ablaze 
with battle, well and good, too. There would be 
something for him to do, though it was only to ease 


A BOY OF THE LOST CRUSADE 261 


wounded men, and he liked to think of such service 
as the payment of his debt to the dying General 
for that last word of comfort and assurance. 

Was there more than a breath of hope in it.^ 
Much more, Samson stoutly maintained, and never 
failed to remind the boy that it was a message 
of his father living and not dead. 

“If I should find him,” Roland said one day, 
“his first word will be of my mother — and how 
can I tell him?” 

Samson was instantly all sympathy: “What you 
tell him is that which you share with him and 
bear with him, little brother.” 

Meanwhile the country unrolled before them like 
a vivid scroll painted with the sunshine of late 
Syrian summer. The purple hilltops of Judtea 
gave way to Samaria stretched at ease in her golden 
plenty and her loaded vineyards; and Samaria, to 
the hills and oaks of Galilee, with great Hermon 
white and mystical in the north. 

At last, one day, as Samson, just ahead of Ro¬ 
land, clambered up the bank of a stony brook-bed, 
he gave a little cry of satisfaction. The next minute 
he had reached down and swung the boy up abreast 
of him. 

“See,” he said, “up yonder — Kaukab-il-howa!” 


CHAPTER SIXTEEN 


A BOLD headland that thrust away fiom the rest of 
the land, and on its crest a rugged crown of wall 
and turret and tower! 

Belvoir, of the Crusaders! The Saracens’ Star- 
of-the-Wind! And rightly named, if ever words 
spoke truth; for, with its Frankish masters, one 
must own its claim to widespread beauty from 
Hermon’s snow to Jordan’s sunken green; and, 
with its Saracen conquerors, sing its fellowship 
with the winds of heaven! Other castles might 
cling along mountain-sides or find foothold on 
their summits, but this gray defense, whose walls 
seemed only the bold slopes risen higher, looked 
a part of the headland itself. 

Roland surveyed it, torn between pride and re¬ 
gret. The patience and courage of these Frangi 
who had planted their great brave strongholds all 
up and down this land that was half a world away 
from their mother country! If the same persistence 
that built them had kept them! 

“How long will it take to climb up therehe 
inquired presently. 

“Let’s find out!” Samson challenged, starting 
ahead. “I look for Khaleel anywhere along the 
way now,” he observed presently, and as he spoke 
there flitted before him an image of the Saracen 


A BOY OF THE LOST CRUSADE 263 

as he devoured Roland with amazed, incredulous 
gaze. 

There was hardly chance for reflection or talk 
while they made the steep ascent, but at last they 
stood, breathless, under the castle walls, speechless 
with wonder at the heights and depths about them. 

“Which is the greater marvel,’’ Samson asked, 
“so much of the earth spread out for us to look at, 
or so much of the sky?” 

“Do you know,” Roland answered thought¬ 
fully, his eyes on the solid masonry laid with such 
pains of detail, “ the greatest wonder to me is that 
men should climb up here and build — that! I’m 
glad it was my people who did it!” 

“Courage and patience,” Samson agreed gen¬ 
erously, “plenty of them, was what they had, little 
brother. I should think,” he went on, looking 
about, “that we would see some one.” 

“Let’s go in,” suggested Roland. 

“If we can find an opening large enough,” 
laughed Samson, eyeing the slit-like windows. 

They found an entrance presently, that was 
plainly the main one of the castle. The heavy door 
stood wide open and unguarded, and still there was 
no one to be seen on the walls or at the towers. 

“It was left open for us, don’t you think?” 

“Perhaps,” Samson said uncertainly; “though 
it seems almost as if something had happened, as 
if the place were deserted or as if we were in a 
dream.” 


264 


A BOY OF THE LOST CRUSADE 


‘‘A dream,” Roland bantered, ‘‘that Khaleel 
will wake us out of! I’m going in to find him —■ 
come!” And with that he stepped through the 
gateway, laughing, and a little excited. 

They found themselves in a paved courtyard 
open to the sky and enclosed by the inner walls of 
the castle. At one side was a colonnade into which 
opened several narrow passageways. 

“Now, we’ll be sure to see some one,” Roland 
said confidently. 

Before Samson could reply, a sound of footsteps, 
slow, regular footsteps, broke the silence, and from 
one of the passages appeared a man in the dress 
of a Saracen soldier, except that his great shock of 
white hair was bare of turban. The next moment, 
he faced about and, with head bent, paced de¬ 
liberately to the farther end of the colonnade, as if 
he were on an accustomed duty. 

“Ah!” Roland leaned forward, his hands clutch¬ 
ing his throat, his eyes riveted on the retreating 
figure. 

“What is it, little brother.^” Samson cried out 
in alarm; then, as he followed the boy’s gaze, a 
great light broke over his anxious face. But Ro¬ 
land neither heard nor saw him. He knew only that 
something in that soldierly bearing, something 
about those broad shoulders, knocked at the door 
of memory and was answered by pulses that 
hammered his veins and roared in his ears. Noth¬ 
ing in the world mattered to him but this solitary 


A BOY OF THE LOST CRUSADE 


265 


soldier who now turned again and marched slowly 
forward, his eyes fixed on the rose that he held in 
his hand! 

The next thing that Roland knew was that he 
had flung himself in the man’s path and that 
a strange, shaking voice was saying, “Father! Fa¬ 
ther — why, father!” 

Samson, in an ecstasy of hope and suspense, saw 
the soldier step back as if he had been struck, 
saw the muscles of his face working convulsively, 
and heard him make strange, inarticulate sounds 
that formed themselves at last into “Roland — 
Roland —” 

Ah, there was no doubt now who this white- 
haired stranger was! And Samson, alone in the 
shadow of the walls, repeated softly, “Jehovah be 
praised! Jehovah be praised!” While, behind a 
pillar at the farthest end of the court, some one 
who had watched everything from his hiding- 
place, some one with a lean, dark face and eyes 
of black light, whispered, “Allah is great! Allah is 
good!” 

“Roland, little son — mine!” Over and over 
Robert Arnot held the boy off to devour him with 
his eyes, only to draw him hungrily into his arms 
and to lay his cheek on the bright hair in a passion 
of tenderness. And Roland — struggling between 
tears and laughter, and fond little incoherencies 
that had neither beginning nor end, and wonder at 
this unbelievable thing that in one breath had 


266 A BOY OF THE LOST CRUSADE 


transformed his world — knew only that here in 
these strong arms was home at last! 

Yet, in this tumult of emotions he was half aware 
of a change in his father, not the outward one of 
the whitened hair, but something far more subtle 
and impossible to put into words. 

Hardly had the thought formed itself in the boy’s 
mind than the dear voice, so familiar, yet so 
strangely unfamiliar, began to speak. 

“She always used to be with you,” it said in a 
slow, thick way, as if the tongue were unused to 
its work — “Where is she.^” 

Instantly Roland sensed the truth of what he 
had half feared: the thing that had whitened his 
father’s hair and weighted his speech had tampered 
with his mind! What should he do, how answer.^ 

In his extremity he looked around instinctively 
for Samson — though for these moments he had 

9 

forgotten him — and Samson, who always knew 
one’s need without being told, came at once out 
of the shadow of the walls to answer the unspoken 
appeal. 

“Something has happened to him, Samson—• 
what.?” 

Samson surveyed Robert Arnot with the same 
solicitude he would have shown one of the sheep 
in trouble. 

“Nothing the matter with the body,” he decided 
finally. “That is as beautiful as one could wish,” 
with a look of frank admiration. 


A BOY OF THE LOST CRUSADE 267 


At that moment the silent watcher at the end 
of the court emerged from his hiding-place, and 
just as Samson finished speaking Khaleel appeared 
at his side. There was a minute of blank surprise, 
and then a light broke over Samson’s face. 

‘‘You brought us to Kaukab-il-howa for — 
this!” 

“Did you, Khaleel?” Roland seized the man’s 
hands. “Did you know my father was here? How 
did you find out?” 

“ Partly from you, man-child, when you told me 
the story of the Frangi soldier who was left on 
the battle-field in the clothes of a Saracen,” 
Khaleel replied, smiling, “and partly” — he leaned 
over and touched the rose in Robert Arnot’s hand 
— “partly from this! Do you remember that I 
asked you that night at the hut why you searched 
the heart of the rose?” 

Robert Arnot, meanwhile, seemed to have for¬ 
gotten his question to Roland, and looked from 
one face to another with bewildered eyes, but, when 
Khaleel touched the rose that he held, he drew 
away sharply. 

“That is some one I love!” and he laid the 
flower jealously to his cheek. “ Some one,” he went 
on uncertainly, “whose name is—” He stopped 
helplessly, his perplexed gaze on Roland. 

In a flash it came to the boy what to do: his 
father must be made to roll back the cloud that 
dimmed the past, now, without a moment's delay. 


268 A BOY OF THE LOST CRUSADE 

He looked up into the troubled face and smiled 
confidently. ‘‘Whose name is — ” he prompted 
slowly. 

Robert Arnot caught at the words: “Whose 
name is —” he began, hesitated, then stopped, his 
eyes wandering. 

The next moment he brought them back to 
Roland, and, with an evident efiFort, held them 
there. The muscles of his throat contracted, his 
lips parted, formed broken sounds. All at once 
Roland knew what was happening; and Samson 
and Khaleel, pressing so close to him in their 
excitement that he could feel their breath on his 
neck, knew, too: Robert Arnot was trying to re¬ 
member— how desperately, only the three could 
tell who watched his struggle, and saw his face 
beaded with moisture, the veins like cords on fore¬ 
head and neck. 

“Whose name —” he began again; then, with a 
sudden joyous movement, he flung up his head and 
his voice rang through the court — “is Rose!^^ 
And in the next breath, “Where is she?” he de¬ 
manded jealously. 

A pitying murmur broke from Samson and 
Khaleel, for, without understanding the man’s 
language, they knew what he meant. 

“She sent me to find you, father,” came in¬ 
stinctively to Roland’s lips, and, before he had 
time to remember that this was the question he had 
dreaded, he was answering it: answering it with the 


A BOY OF THE LOST CRUSADE 269 


dear intimacy that his father had taught him, arm 
in arm and cheek to cheek. Indeed, it was only 
the sense of that comradeship that gave Roland 
heart to go through with the story, from the first 
of it, when he had waked to find Rose dressed as 
Uncle Jacques, even to the black night when she 
gave him her last brave charge: “Bear your name 
worthily. Never stop looking for father!” 

Long before the end, Robert Arnot guessed what 
it would be, and, knowing, was able to bear it with 
fortitude because, as Samson had foretold, it was 
Roland who told him and Roland who shared it 
with him. 

“She has brought us together, little son,” he 
said at last, “and so, please Heaven, shall we re¬ 
main for the rest of our days.” He was silent for a 
long time, his eyes on the rose that he kept by him, 
his thoughts, as Roland knew well, in the flowery 
little garden at home and all that it had held of 
life and joy. 

By and by he drew Roland to him and tilted his 
face up, hand under chin, in the old, familiar way. 

“How long have you been looking for me.^” he 
asked. 

“Two years and a little more.” 

Robert Arnot appeared to consider. Again his 
face contracted and the veins swelled. It was plain 
to the three who watched him that he was trying to 
recall something, that past and present were grop¬ 
ing toward each other. 


270 A BOY OF THE LOST CRUSADE 


“Talk to him,” Khaleel whispered in Roland’s 
ear; “tell him what the Frangi General told you.” 

“Father,” Roland said promptly, “when did 
you come here — to this castle.^” 

Robert Arnot looked at the boy blankly, and 
shook his head: “I don’t know.” 

“Was it after a battle, a battle near Acre.^” 

“I was in a battle near Acre!” his father declared 
triumphantly. 

“And afterward?” 

“I can’t remember,” with the old puzzled look. 
“Something happened in the very midst of it — 
and then nothing more, only that I found myself 
here.” 

With that, Roland repeated word for word the 
story that the dying General had told him, and 
when at last he ended by saying, “That Frangi 
soldier whom his comrades dressed in the clothes 
of the dead Saracen was you, father,” Robert Arnot 
sprang up in his excitement. 

“I could take my oath on it,” he declared; “and 
yet all I can vouch for is that I was in the thick of 
battle, when all at once a black pit swallowed me 
up. And that is what it has been ever since — 
blackness.” 

Roland turned to Samson and Khaleel. “He 
remembers the battle, but nothing afterward.” 

“Do you know why?” Khaleel said at once. 
“See! Feel!” and he took the boy’s hand and 
guided it over the snow-white head. Under his 



A BOY OF THE LOST CRUSADE 271 


fingers Roland felt a thick, welt-like ridge that 
ran from the crown into the nape of the neck, the 
scar of what must have been a ferocious gash from 
a Saracen sword. 

“Hardly a fortnight ago,” Khaleel continued, 
while Roland translated the Arabic for Robert 
Arnot, “I stopped at Kaukab-il-howa and, while I 
waited here in the court, a soldier passed me several 
times. I noticed at once that though his clothes 
were like ours his features were Frangi; but what 
attracted my attention most was that he always 
held a rose whose petals he never ceased to caress.” 

“Didn’t I tell you,” Samson put in softly, “that 
the rose was an omen of life?” 

And Robert Arnot observed quietly: “It was 
my only light in all that time of darkness. Though 
I couldn’t tell why, I knew that I must never be 
without one.” 

“I asked my friend the Ameer here,” Khaleel 
went on, “who the man was, and he was astonished 
that I didn’t know, since the Frangi, for Frangi 
he was, had been at Kaukab-il-howa for a year. 
He told me, then, that after a battle outside Acre, 
two years ago, our wounded had been removed to a 
near-by shelter and later to Tabor, where it was 
discovered that one of them was this same Saleebi 
in Saracen clothes. 

“Before the Ameer had gone a word further, 
something whispered to me that the Saleebi was 
no other than your father, man-child. But lest my 


272 A BOY OF THE LOST CRUSADE. 

suspicions should prove false, not a breath of what 
I had heard must reach you, until you had seen 
him for yourself. Then, as you know, I came that 
night to the hut, and heard from your lips the story 
I already knew. And to complete the proof — the 
rose that you took from your girdle!” 

As the narrative proceeded, Robert Arnot would 
sometimes venture a question through Roland. 

“How long was I at Tabor.^” he asked now. 

“Several months,” Khaleel replied, “and for a 
long time it was thought that you could hardly live 
from one day to the next. When he finally re¬ 
covered”— he turned to Roland and Samson — 
“he was like a little child, he had even to learn to 
walk, and his hair had become as you see it now.” 

“Why did they take care of him.^” Roland in¬ 
quired curiously. “He was a prisoner and their 
enemy!” 

“He was not an enemy then,^ returned Khaleel; 
“he was helpless and in need; he became a guest! 
At first,” he resumed, “there was some question of 
sending him back to the Saleebiyin, but months 
passed before he was strong enough and afterward 
the matter drifted. When our garrison at Tabor 
was moved to Kaukab-il-howa, your father came, 
too, as a matter of course, and here in this court,” 
he concluded, “he has spent his days pacing back 
and forth, seldom resting, and never without a 
rose in his hand — just as I first saw him, and as 
you did, too, man-child!” 



A BOY OF THE LOST CRUSADE 273 

“That such things could be!” Samson murmured 
half to himself. 

“Did you arrange it, Khaleel, that no one should 
be about when we first came?” Roland demanded. 

“Yes, lest something should disturb that first 
meeting.” 

“And to think,” Roland reflected, “how easily 
this might not have happened if you hadn’t chanced 
to see him!” 

“Ah, man-child,” rejoined Khaleel gravely, 
“Allah’s will has been from the beginning!” 

Afterward there was a great deal for Roland to 
tell. His father must hear of the good Father 
Gaspard, and of his tireless devotion; of the gay 
Chevalier, even of Rasheed, and the incomparable 
Abou Kbeer; of the golden days on the Shephelah 
pressed down and running over with unforgettable 
happiness, of Khaleel’s visits flashing in and out 
of them; above all and everything, of the beloved 
comradeship of Samson! 

Throughout the long story Robert Arnot listened, 
sometimes laughing, sometimes grave, sometimes 
interrupting it to exclaim fondly, “Heaven be 
thanked, Roland, lad, you’ve not put to shame 
the name we gave you, your mother and I! ” More 
than once he said, looking at Samson and Khaleel, 
“Tell them for me, little son, that I owe them a 
debt I can never pay” — and at last he added, in a 
moved way — “ except by sharing you with them! ” 

In the end Roland spoke of his decision to enter 



274 A BOY OF THE LOST CRUSADE 


the service of the Crusades at once. Robert Arnot’s 
face lighted with its old eager energy: 

“There will be two of us to go, then — and need 
enough for us. Heaven knows!” 

No sooner had his memory recovered itself than 
the will began to assert its own sturdy rule, and, 
Roland knew for himself that there was nothing 
to fear for it; its strength was unharmed, its vigor 
undulled. 

“More need than ever before,” he agreed, and, 
when Khaleel and Samson had left them alone for a 
little, he told his father of how matters stood with 
the Frankish armies. 

“Not an hour for us to lose!” Robert Arnot de¬ 
clared; then his face softened and he said sorrow¬ 
fully, “Would that my old comrade might have 
lived to welcome us, so that I might have thanked 
him in my way for my vast debt to him. But now 
that he’s gone, all the more reason for us to fill his 
place, so why delay, little son, why not go at once? ” 

And Roland, with the frankness that had always 
been between himself and Khaleel, put the question 
to him. 

“Of course! As soon as you will! And on my 
horses every step of the way, man-child!” 

“To the edge of the Shephelah, just!” the boy 
protested affectionately. “From there on, afoot!” 

Robert Arnot having wandered to the outer gate 
said he would wait there until they were ready to 
start; and meanwhile there was an enchanted hour 


A BOY OF THE LOST CRUSADE 275 


for Roland and Samson while Khaleel showed them 
the great castle. 

No lack of soldiers in sight now, Roland observed: 
silent, vigilant figures, that kept watch from tower 
windows, or paced slowly back and forth on the 
broad walls; a squad at the gate, and another in 
the courtyard. 

But, one and all, they took a lively interest in 
this unexpected turn in the fortunes of the white- 
haired Saleebi, and on every side Roland caught 
bits of their good-fellowship. And when Khaleel 
gave the word for a quick departure to satisfy the 
restless spirit of Robert Arnot, the walls of Kaukab- 
il-howa rang with the good wishes that were called 
out to the two Frangi. 


CHAPTEE SEVENTEEN 


It was the Shephelah as Roland loved it best that 
welcomed them as they climbed out of the barren 
wadi; the Shephelah, warm with the flush of morn¬ 
ing, playful and friendly, and pungently sweet. 
Here for two glad years they had been comrades, 
he and Samson and Khaleel, and here, too, they 
must part, each to go his own way. He almost 
faltered at the thought, and Samson, wrestling 
with his own sore heart, watched the boy’s hard- 
fought battle with ever-comprehending eyes. 

As they reached a place where the road forked, 
Khaleel drew rein, and the others dismounted. 
To the west lay the sea and the Crusader camps; to 
the south, over hill and valley, the hut, the sheep, 
Abou Kbeer. 

For a moment Roland flung his arms around II 
Howa’s neck, and laid his cheek to the beautiful, 
intelligent face, and, as he stood so, Khaleel leaned 
forward in his saddle and took the fair head in his 
hands. 

“Man-child, no longer child but man, ready for 
men’s work, and for — this!” He lifted a sheathed 
sword from his side and laid it before the boy. 

“It has a mate—^only one — and that Saleem 
carries. Each bears the same inscription in our 
language, ‘Brothers.’ See for yourself.” 


A BOY OF THE LOST CRUSADE 277 


There was a little expectant hush, as Roland, 
KhaleeFs hand on his, drew the blade from its 
scabbard. Samson, slipping a finger along the bold 
beautiful characters, read the Arabic inscription 
aloud. 

‘‘Brothers,” the boy translated for his father. 

“All that the word means they’ve been to us,” 
Robert Arnot cried out warmly — “yes, taught us!” 
Something welled up in him too strong and too 
tender to be spoken, something that swept away 
difference of language and creed, and that he, as 
yet, only dimly understood. “Heaven make me 
worthy,” he said at last humbly, “to be counted 
as brother to such!” 

“A pledge between us” — Khaleel bent over 
Roland again — “in war, in peace, to the end of 
our lives: Brothers!” 

And before the boy could find his voice, the 
Saracen had turned II Howa east, and was gone, 
a distant, flying figure with his little band of fleetly 
following horses. 

Slowly Roland raised the blade where the sun¬ 
light flashed along its gleaming length. An ex¬ 
hilaration that was too intense to be either joy or 
pain possessed him, for in this moment of new- 
gained significance he had pledged himself to the 
world of men and of deeds in the name of a common 
brotherhood. Ah, he would be worthy of his sword 
and its mute message, in war, in peace, to the end 
of his life! 



S78 A BOY OF THE LOST CRUSADE 


“Beloved little brother” — Samson drew very 
near, and Roland knew that, though there would 
be no word of parting, this was their last moment 
together— “I have always known that this must 
come, you to follow your Call, I, mine.” 

In a flash Roland went back to that day when 
he sat on the sands of Jaffa, spellbound at sight of 
the dark, beautiful face and its contradiction of 
smiling eyes and somber mouth. “Samson — 
Samson!” he burst out, choked with the flood of 
memory, “what if you hadn’t come down that day! 
Why, Samson, not to have lived with you, not to 
have known the Shephelah — Syria —” He flung 
out his arms in a passion of love and farewell to the 
bright hills and all that they had held for him. 

“Ah,” Samson cried, “from the moment I saw 
you, little brother, I wanted to show you what I 
love best, and that is the heart of Syria. And be¬ 
cause we know it, you and I, even as we know each 
other, I can let you go!” 

A little later, as Roland and his father came out 
on a rise of ground, Roland turned to look back on 
the hills. There, as he had foreseen, was the lithe, 
powerful figure striding along, the abba streaming 
free. All at once it halted, and Roland knew that 
each of them had had the same thought: to catch 
that last glimpse of each other! 

For a seeond of time they stood motionless, the 
three of them, and then there floated out to Roland 
and his father words that were hardly distinguish- 




A BOY OF THE LOST CRUSADE 279 

able until the hills caught them up and flung them 
wide: “Go in peace!” — Syria’s universal farewell 
to the departing friend. Then, fainter and fainter, 
“Peace!” echoed the Shephelah. And now Samson 
turned, and once more swung resolutely on his way. 

The next moment Roland faced squarely about, 
hand on sword, eyes searching out the nearest path 
that led to the plain. The bitterness of parting had 
somehow vanished in the sweetness of these magic 
words of brotherhood and of peace. The world 
seemed now a great family in which each followed 
his own Call while yet he strove toward a more 
perfect brotherhood. It was good to live in such a 
world, good to bear a part in it; good, above all, 
he said to himself, to answer the Call side by side 
with his father, and, shoulder to shoulder, to stand 
with him in the great Cause. 

Robert Arnot sensing the boy’s thoughts, caught 
his arm fondly. “Comrades, little son,” he said, 
“for always, in the name of Christendom and the 
Cross!” 

Roland assented gravely; then, as he raised his 
sword high, “In the name of Christendom and the 
Cross,” he repeated, “and in the name of The 
Holy Land!” 


THE END